WELCOME TO

the rooted journal

June 17, 2024

From Chaos to Calm: How Structure Saved My Art

My Villain Origin Story

It was not my intention to destroy my creativity.

We usually imagine ourselves as the protagonist of our own story. Perhaps we descend to that morally gray archetype at times, but at the end of the day we like to hang our cape next to our cluttered bedside table at night. Our struggles are against outside forces; enemies who attempt to snuff out our creative genius.

How dare they. 

What we never plan for is being the villain. While the resistance we face may often come from external combatants such as a lack of support, financial crisis, the economy [gestures widely], or that one mean thing that one girl said in middle school that still haunts us from time to time, it sometimes comes directly from our own self sabotage. 

Let me be clear: I’m not referring to chronic mental or physical health challenges that might plague us. These are things that may increase the default difficulty setting, however, it is not something I would deem as intrinsically “bad”. Simply something we must work into the equation. 

If you are anything like me, then you can identify moments when what you thought would be best for you turns out to be…not so great. Yet in a quest to hold onto your conviction, a villain arises from within yourself. Suddenly, your preferred method of execution is in direct opposition to your desired outcome.  

The beginning of my villain arc goes a little something like this.

I’m a multipassionate creative, something I have words for now, but didn’t only a handful of years ago. If you don’t know what that is, basically you’re a creative but it looks a lot like a group of Swifties who just got word their Mother is dropping a secret 50-song album at midnight. Overwhelming passion with slightly unhinged expectations. (No hate Swifties, I promise!)

For my enneagram lovers out there, I’m a solid 4 with a 5 wing. I prefer being multidisciplinary and niching down makes my skin crawl. To be defined is to be caged. Where others see chaos, I see endless possibilities and connections. I usually thrive in change and I tend to push against the status quo as often as I can.

BECAUSE I’M UNIQUE DANG IT!

-Me, all the time

However, when it came to my creative process, my ruthless desire to ‘be different’ for the sake of it nearly destroyed my art in the process.  

The Spontaneity Trap

Most of the people in my family thrive within rigid guidelines. That is not to say they are not creative. They just really like their schedules. My mother, who was a great influence on me as a creative, embodies what it means to be an A-Type Personality. 

I tried most of my life to fit within the traditional means of time-management and organization. It never worked well, so after I graduated from college with a BA in Vocal Performance, I decided I was done with all that mumbo jumbo. I was a free bird. Spontaneity only from then on. 

This would be the part in the movie where we get a freeze frame and the narrator, also known as the main character, would let us know via voiceover that this is where everything would start to go downhill. 

My twenties were hard. Whoever said you were supposed to live your best life then was either lying or really rich. I think that decade would have been a struggle no matter what. Now that I’m going to be 35 this year, I’m very thankful that I didn’t “make it big” when I was that young. I needed the toil to shape me. 

However…

My art and creativity suffered during this time – and it probably didn’t have to. 

My goal was freedom. I thought I could achieve this by breaking out of the mold. Being different. Removing restraints. Leaving my life as open as the first page of the brand new notebook you’ll inevitably abandon. 

The result was frustration, missed opportunities, and a whole heck of a lot of burnout. 

The truth is my dedication to total spontaneity nearly ruined me and destroyed my creative process. It’s a hard pill to swallow, especially for multipassionates, hobbyists, avid sidequesters, and cozy creatives, but here it is:

Having no plan, no organization, and no time-management skills is a detriment to your art. 

I know, I know. I really hated that realization. But there’s no need to get any ointment for that burn because here comes the incredibly good news that I learned along the way.

All of those things traditionally associated with “organized people who have their sheesh together”? Plans, goals, color coded-systems, time-management resources, and lists? 

It doesn’t have to look like that – if you don’t want it to. 

When I finally started to see this, I supplemented my spontaneity with structure. Now, structure is my friend and actually makes my spontaneity more impactful. 

The Power of Personalized Organization

There is this incessant need in our culture, specifically American consumerist culture, for everything to be bigger, better, bolder, and booming. The hustle is glorified with algorithms churning and burning content for a millisecond of recognition, riding the fickle waves of currently viral trends. 

Specialization is king. We all know the equation: the elevator pitch that tells people who you are and what you’re going to help them with or what they are following you for. 

Hello, my name is Stephanie and I crochet bikini tops for special needs cats. (Actually, that’s kind of cute someone please do this if it doesn’t already exist.)

Specialization requires a specific type of organization and time-management skills. Most of these are time-tested and battle worn. They are the traditional approaches you most likely grew up using, or trying to use in my case. They are simple, rigid, and formulaic, designed to propel someone forward from point A to point B through an uncomplicated waterfall of action steps. 

However, the time of the Renaissance creator is on the rise as soloprenuers are juggling all the hats as the only person on their team. People need that jack-of-all-trades energy in their companies, departments, and industries. Things have shifted, as they always do, and the era of the multipassionate/multidisciplanary is upon us once more. 

Arguably, it never really went away. It was simply societal shifts made more room for one over the other.

Traditional time-management and organization tools are created by already organized specialists for other already organized specialists. Generally speaking, these tools are task-oriented. If your brain happens to function like this, these tools are phenomenal!

If you’re like me….

These tools are soul crushing.

But everything changed when I started personalizing my own organization. I took the tools available to me and crafted something retrofitted to my needs as a multipassionate creative. A flexible framework that would allow me to stay organized but make room for necessary pivots or shifts in my goals due to capacity changes.

I’ll be spending the first season of my podcast, Sidequest of the Week, on this system I named The Idea Crafting Wheel. It’s all about idea management rather than red lining it indefinitely and creating at break-neck speeds. Your ideas matter. And they should be valued, written down, and explored. Once I learned this lesson, my creative process truly came alive.

The Role of Time Management in My Artistic Revival

It’s not always about reinventing the wheel. My personal Renaissance was much more about taking tools that already existed and reshaping them around my needs. It seems simple. You may be thinking…I mean, yeah Kayla. That’s pretty obvious.

It’s obvious (as it was to me) but if it were so obvious, why are there so many creatives out there paralyzed by overwhelm, comparison, self-doubt, and systems that were designed with someone else in mind?

I knew that I could just “do my own thing”. However, I kept looking to the masses for a formula. A set of guidelines. When that didn’t work, I abandoned all of it only to find out what I craved was structure.

You see – I didn’t actually want a formula. I wanted a secure foundation I could build something of my own on. When I looked around me, all the foundations I saw already had the framing of the house secured. And none of the layouts quite suited me.

So I stripped it all back to the foundational principles that make these approaches work.

When I started overhauling my organizational approach, I realized that there was another area that needed my desperate attention.

Time.

The way I managed my time was not great. Yet again, I felt caged in by rigid schedules. Setting up my day in hour increments never seemed to work. By noon, I was way off schedule and full of shame because I’d already failed at keeping my commitment to myself. But when I had and open-ended calendar, my time seemed to just…slip away. I’d feel the same amount of shame because I accomplished nothing even though I had a full day.

I left my job as a bank teller back in 2017 to pursue full time photography. That was my current obsession at the time and I was convinced I would break into the business like everyone else was doing. I was already shooting weddings among other things.

I spent nearly a year with my days completely open-ended. Nobody had any hold on my time. Nobody, including myself. Needless to say, that business venture died within 8 months, adding the growing pile of others things I tried and turned out I didn’t like as a full-time gig.

I’m not ashamed of that time. It taught me a lot. And I don’t think I did everything wrong. I just figured out that being a full-time photographer was most definitely not for me. I tell you this story to contrast to where I am today.

I work a remote job 30-40/hours a week. My hours are basically 9-5. I wake up at 3:30AM every morning so that I can be at the gym at 4:00AM. I have two major blocks of time to create: 6:30AM-8:00AM and 5:30-7:00PM. Those aren’t strict either, because I have other commitments that sometimes push into those segments. I do protect my time, however, I have MUCH less of it to create than I did as a full-time artist.

I have created more consistently over the past two years than I have most of my life.

It’s easy to want to beat myself up about it now that I know the things that I know. If I had the tools, mindsets, and flexible frameworks that I do now, I wonder if I would have been further along. But I can’t go there and neither can you.

My point is that having my time significantly more restrained forced me to hone my time-management skills. By creating boundaries around my time, I actually have more time and space to embrace spontaneity when it is beneficial to my creative process.

Tools and Tips for Structured Creativity

As I stated before, I’ll be spending my entire first season on the podcast talking about implementing a flexible framework (that is totally able to be retrofitted to you!) that helps you move your ideas from thought into action.

However, I’m well aware that sometimes you need a quick win. With that in mind, this is my go-to list of resources I reference! This list will continue to grow, however, this is where I would start if you’re looking for something to help ease the overwhelm right now!

Books:

  • Atomic Habits by James Clear
  • The Creative Act by Rick Rubin
  • The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
  • Creative Quest by Questlove
  • Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
  • On Writing by Steven King
  • Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer
  • How to be Everything by Emilie Wapnick
  • Refuse to Choose! by Barbara A Sher
  • Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte

People I Follow:

  • George Kao
  • Annie Petsche
  • @shinewithnatasha
  • @inspiredtowrite
  • James Clear
  • Ergo Josh

Embracing Structure for Creative Success

I guess if you got this far you now know just how verbose I am. Lol. Sorry…not sorry.

I hated anything that put to rigid of perameters around me. By abaondoning them altogether, I became my own worse enemy. Once I gave myself permission to use the tools I already had, but make them work for the way I view the world, everythign changed.

If any of this has resonated, then a formula most likely won’t work well for you. That 90-plan that coach has might not work well for your artistic goals. Niching down to a super specific elevator speech might be too limiting for you – at least right now.

You might already know this.

What you need is structure, not plug-and-play automations. I’ll leave you with this quote:

“Even magical, fantasy, and sci-fi worlds have systems and limits. So why don’t you?”

Me, to myself
keep reading
October 25, 2021

Idea Management Monday™| OCT ’21, V.1

Welcome, friend!

Hello, friend! Welcome to the first edition of Idea Management Monday’s™ where I deep dive into a concept from my framework for multi-passionate creatives: the Idea Management System™. 

Today we will be chatting about brainstorming and brain dumping

In case you are new and have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s a quick recap! 

Earlier this year when I was asking God for something to help me and other multi-passionates wrestle, wonder, and work out our gift, I got a divine download. A framework to help us manage our ideas instead of being overwhelmed by them. 

While this framework was originally conceived for multi-passionates, I have come to realize its benefits extend to those who would not necessarily consider themselves creatives as well. Here’s the fancy schmancy elevator pitch of the IMS –

The Idea Management System™

The Idea Management System™ is a lifestyle framework that promotes healthy rhythms of organizing your overwhelm into more manageable, realistic, and resolvable pieces. 

It consists of two concentric circles that represent the macro (longer-term) and micro (shorter-term/daily) intentions, divided into six segments. These six segments are meant to be moved through in order around the circle and are as follows:

  1. Brainstorm/Brain Dump
  2. Review
  3. Filter
  4. Prioritize
  5. Implement
  6. Nourish

The Idea Management Wheel™ is divided by a line called the thought/action plane and represents the balance between thinking and doing

In case you’re head is already exploding, here’s a visual to assist!

Visual 1.0

The Theory

So let’s get into it! 

The first section/step, as you can see above, is Brainstorming/Brain Dumping. This is the only section that will have a different name for the macro and micro levels. While they are similar, they accomplish a few different goals. 

So let’s get a definition up in here! 

Brainstorming (v.) – was originally an activity created for groups of people to discuss and come up with new ideas to solve a problem. 

Brain dumping (v.) – a technique to stop overthinking and reduce the pressure one might feel. 

More simply put….

(MACRO) Brainstorming primarily deals with solving a problem or fulfilling a need. 

(MICRO) Brain dumping primarily deals with reducing anxiety and organizing mental clutter.

While they are slightly different, they are accomplishing one primary goal: placing your overwhelm outside of yourself. 

There is a reason that Brainstorming and Brain Dumping are the first step you take in the Idea Management System™. 

Hustle culture keeps telling you to –

  • Keep pushing
  • Fake it til you make it
  • You can sleep when you’re dead
  • Hustle harder
  • Rise and grind

The IMS encourages you to slow down FIRST. There is no benefit to you to continue on the hamster wheel if you are under a heavy weight of overwhelm and anxiety. 

Brainstorming and brain dumping encourages introspection, prayer, and surrender. To find grounding in the things that matter and allow the rest to fall away. 

The Benefits

So, let’s jump into the benefits of Brainstorming and Brain Dumping!

  1. Move overwhelm and mental clutter outside of yourself

2. Reduction in anxiety

3. Mental space

4. Teaches brain to purge more frequently

5. Built in check point/mile marker

6. Gives brain a rest

The Practice

Okay, awesome! I love those benefits – but how do we DO the thing, Kayla?

I’m going to guess you’re pretty dang smart and already have an idea how Brainstorming and Brain Dumping works. But here are a few tips that make these strategies work the way they were designed to –

  1. Do not filter – the goal is to get all of those ideas and all that overwhelm out of your head. Don’t worry about the things that feel “crazy”. We tend to limit our thoughts before they ever hit the page. DO. NOT. FILTER.
  2. Quantity > Quality – Similar to not filtering, do not worry about the quality of what is hitting the page. The purpose is to purge so you can move your overwhelm out of your head. Don’t worry about making it pretty – that’s for later.
  3. Give yourself time – there’s no need to rush this practice. Take the time that is needed to truly getting all that mental clutter outside of yourself. 
  4. Pen + Paper – while the digital world has brought amazing benefits, pen and paper are still king in this practice. Writing all this down on paper incorporates more of your senses than typing on your phone. 
  5. Take a break – instead of reviewing your Brainstorm or Brain Dump as soon as you finish, you need to walk away and take some time from your list. Allow yourself to enjoy the mental space you just created before moving on. 

Brainstorming is primarily used for intentions that are forward looking 30 days or more and generally related to our visions, dreams, and goals. 

Brain dumping is primarily used for daily intentions that are generally more task-oriented and affecting us immediately. 

Since there is some nuance, I’ve added a few examples below so you can pick up what I’m putting down. 

Brainstorming Examples:

-ideas for your next eBook

-all the ways you could release your eBook

-all the platform options for online course

-the things you would like to accomplish in life

-how to distribute information on your class on the internet

Brain Dumping Examples:

-all of the things you need to get done today

-the things that are making you anxious

-tasks that you need to get done for the week at work

-people you need to reply to via email

-housework needing to be done before family visits

-ways you are feeling overwhelmed

The Conclusion

I hope this first step in the IMS™ is a practice you can begin to incorporate into your life as a multi-passionate. Or perhaps as someone who just feels a bit overwhelmed by life. 

Always remember that Jesus took time away – He was not always going and doing and hustling. Brainstorming and Brain dumping encourages us to do just that. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts below in the comments! I look forward to reading them!

keep reading
November 2, 2020

Farewell Facebook: A Time To Bow Out

I will be stepping off Facebook for a while. I will keep my account active because I need it for my biz/blog, but will not be engaging. Normally, I would not feel the need to announce this. I’d just quietly delete the app and be done with it. But some things need to be expressed.  

I went back and forth for a time trying to decide if I should even post this. I am non-confrontational and avoid pain at all costs.  I have much to say so this will be just the beginning of my writing/processing on the subject. After prayer and deliberation among wise friends, I have decided to communicate this hurt in hopes that it may clear the path for others. Perhaps someone can learn from my own bruises and avoid causing unnecessary wounds.


It is exhausting and damaging for me to listen to conversations regarding race online


People on BOTH sides of the aisle really, REALLY suck at it. And to my more liberal/progressive people: your approach has been the source of some of my greatest hurts regarding race. I already have a Savior and if your name isn’t Jesus Christ, I’ll pass on your charity.

I have had SO MANY well meaning SJW’s whitesplain my personal history to me – why I am irrelevant because I do not fit the narrative. Go ahead and erase me. That’s fine. Do what you’ve got to do I guess. Also, Conservatives, this does not mean you have been so perfect either. Please stop asking me if my hair is real. Or telling me about your friend who’s black. It’s weird…

There Is No Box For Me To Check

There is an onslaught of tension that I have experienced over this last year. It’s terribly difficult to navigate this season as a biracial woman. Unless you’re in that boat it will be difficult to explain. Truthfully, I am really weirded out and exhausted by a lot of the actions taken by white people trying to navigate that tension as well.

I have had people check in, not follow up, yet post immaculately articulated apologies. I have watched people spend more time arguing about the correct/incorrect AMOUNT of activism rather than being a good friend to those BIPOC people around them and asking them what they actually need/want. I have seen people constantly post articles, blogs, videos, podcasts, and more from people they don’t know and not bother listen, read, or watch the very few things I have posted about my own struggle as a biracial woman in this cluster of a dumpster fire.


Elevate melinated voices. Except mine isn’t melinated enough, right?


I’m checking my own prejudices, don’t you worry. But when I look in the mirror, I see a people who look similar to me but who’s suffering doesn’t feel like mine and another people who look similar to me but who’s full privilege doesn’t feel like mine. My ethnicity is summed up as “other”. I don’t want people falling at my feet. But let your words be few if your actions will be as well.  

My mother engrained this proverbial “work” that everyone is tweeting about from a young age. Is there always more learning and growing I can do? Absolutely. But she raised me to see the humanity in all people and try to connect with them on their level/turf/context/culture/whatever fancy buzz word is going for the highest virtue signaling dollar these days. That the image of God was on each and every person. 

So I go and do that work. I just go and….do it. I don’t need my social media page to be lit up like the forth of July to prove to you I’m doing something. I don’t need a trophy for treating people with respect or elevating others so you know I checked off my good deeds for the day.

Black Squares and Hashtags

Everybody has their reasons for what they post on social media. I can’t see into your heart and know what they are. But as someone who has struggled A LOT in this season, your words on Facebook literally mean nothing to me without action to back it up. I know they may be healing to some BIPOC to see people digitally standing with them. I’m not saying it’s wrong. It just doesn’t carry much weight on its own.

Your black square on your profile lets me know, at the very least, that you felt guilty enough to post it because you didn’t want people to think you’re a racist. That’s it. Because guess what? It generates a large group of praise for making such a publicly “bold” stance….for you. Meanwhile, I and others stand back with that one text you sent after George Floyd died to make sure you’re not a racist. Your ‘standing’ in solidarity doesn’t mean I feel safe around you. 

The road to redemption has many lanes. Pick your lane and move forward. Allow other people to merge and join, even if they are at a different pace. Forward momentum is the goal and some will be moving faster than others. And I know this post won’t mean much to the people who are shouting the loudest, but social media is not equal to your action away from your screen. 

Not My Problem

Here’s the thing. If you ARE a racist, that is not my problem to fix. If you do have prejudices, that is not my problem to fix. I do not have the time and energy to go looking for racism, checking people that need to be heart checked, informing people why touching black women’s hair is a freaking huge cringefest, nor why you need to stop using the term ally.

I am not the racist police and I am not your teacher either. I am happy to share my experiences if you actually care about my life in the context of an established relationship. But I am not here to correct you, teach you, or exonerate you.

Navigating this current climate as a biracial woman is already utterly exhausting. The same is true for most BIPOC people. Your racism is not our problem. 

I am going to inevitably bump into people who feel some type of way about me because of the color of my skin. Whatever boo…God sees you and I’ll leave it up to Him to check you. But I am going to walk forward confidently in this life and enjoy it to the fullest. You’re racism isn’t going to stop me. Even if it were to lead to my death, my life is meaningful before and after your racist acts. Your racism, while it may hurt, will not destroy my living of this life. God is my Father…best not to mess with His child. 

Absolution

There have been multiple white people who have come to me this year looking for absolution from past actions. It usually begins with a very broad apology or solidarity statement that is not linked to any specific past events. Similar to making the rounds at dinner tables as a newlywed couple at their wedding out of obligation. This is a weird, uncomfortable, and impossible role for me to play. It actually passes the burden of some guilt you feel onto me. What am I supposed to say in that moment?

If you are truly doing the “work” that you rave about on your social media, you wouldn’t issue a broad apology. You would know exactly what you were apologizing for.

Honestly, most of the time I said it’s fine because I was uncomfortable and wanted to move on. I didn’t really stand up for myself because this is all so raw and vulnerable and hard and weird and tense. But as I shake the dust off, I realize my own movement towards accepting an apology I’m confused by in order to move past the discomfort. 

I Bid You Adieu

I’m tired. Tired of buzz words and social media activism. Of really long new fancy terms to describe my personal hell that make you feel really smart and gives you the upper hand in debates. Of actions and words that feel fueled by frenzy. Of feeling like I have to weigh everything in light of ‘was that racist’. Of ‘allyship’, #alllivesmatter, virtue signaling, and ‘I’ve been silent on social media but…’. Of my experience and the experience of my black family members being disregarded because it doesn’t fit any narrative. This is exhausting and honestly, Facebook just doesn’t help in any way. 

I’m tired of my experience and the experience of my black family members being disregarded because it doesn’t fit in any narrative.

I have always believed that social media has the ability to be a positive place. I like to seek the redemption in all things. But for this season, Facebook is just not that for me. And it’s time to take a step back. I’m tired of being wrecked every time I hop on for an occasional scroll. 

I truly say all of this out of exhaustion, not anger. If we haven’t talked for a while and you’re not sure what to do, I’m still rooting for you from afar! But I, and other black people you haven’t talked to in ages, don’t need you to come issue non-specific apologies, Venmo us coffee money, or ask us to join your anti-racist book club. We can’t absolve you anyways.

If you want to support me/us, just listen to what we have to say. I’m very active on Instagram. Support our art. Comment on our posts so that we know you’re rooting us on. Then ask God where your lane is in this fight for redemption, and get in it. Don’t worry about other peoples’ lanes.  Just merge and at least GET in a lane. 

Whatever lane you end up in, just let it be genuine. Let it be REAL. Let it be something that actually matters to you, and others. Let it be done in true humility and honest compassion for others. 

My desire is that at the end of my life I can say before God and people, as Paul did, that “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

Farewell Facebook
keep reading
August 20, 2020

8 Small Ways to Save the World for Beginners

In the beginning God placed the care of His creation in our hands to steward well. “Save the planet” rhetoric always felt abrasive to me so it became easy to tune it out. Over the years my love has grown for this place we call Earth as well the greater conviction to be an excellent steward of my space. The task was huge so I needed to start small.

It is easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of information and obscenely long lists of what not to do, buy, support, invest, eat, or participate in. Over the years I have slowly begun to shift little by little and become more conscious of how I impact the environment around me. There is still a long way to go but I wanted to give you an inside look of the small shifts I have been making.

1. Pay Attention to Your Trash

You will be surprised just how little waste you actually produce when you begin separating your trash. Luckily my in-laws have been doing this for much of their lives so I was able to pick up the habit quickly. You will be surprised at the number of cardboard boxes, plastic wraps, bottles, cans, and jars produced from your weekly shopping trip. Once you begin keeping these items out of the trash, the waste you produce will decrease dramatically.

Much of our trash we either burn or find a recycling location for. There are some cities that are better at providing these opportunities and incentives than others. Here in Michigan, there is a deposit that you will receive back when you recycle any bottles or cans that have been purchased. Whatever your situation, begin to pay attention to where you are throwing your trash. If you are in an area that provides different types of bins for items you purchased, take an extra 30 seconds to place them into their respective recycling receptacles.

2. Bring Your Own Bags

With COVID, this has put a damper on which stores will allow you to bring your own bags into the store. Fortunately many stores have begun eliminating plastic bags as an option altogether. If you end up in a location where personal bags are not allowed inside, opt for brown paper bags instead. It is a small shift but I have actually found I can fit more in a paper bag than a plastic one anyways.

3. Find a Local Farmer’s Market or CSA

This may not always be budget friendly for everyone. But farmer’s markets are all the rage these days and for good reason. You can find the freshest local produce and support a local farmer! Not only that but I have found some amazing items at the FM that you don’t always get in the box stores. Shopping here also lends to buying just what you need since most items aren’t made to have an unnaturally long shelf life. I tend to spend less at a FM because I am not inundated with a million and a half options.

If you want to take it one step further, consider investing in a CSA. A CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. It is exactly what it sounds like. The basic concept is that you invest or “subscribe” to a small local farm and get weekly shares of the harvest that week. I am working on making this leap myself, but I guarantee you have friends who are diving into this sort of community driven agriculture. It is an amazing way to support local and often support your friends and/or family.

4. Start Thrifting

This may be easier for some people than others. I have always been a bargain shopper and my heart holds a special place for thrift shops *Macklamore’s Thrift Shop begins to play*. It was always about saving money for me, but it became so much more.

As I felt my heart begin to burn for ending human trafficking, I learned just how much the clothing industry (and many other industries) aid in keeping human trafficking the most lucrative illegal businesses on the planet. That just would not do. While I certainly am not perfect, I have almost completely eliminated purchasing brand new items from companies that are not ethically sourced. If you are a sucker for those name brands, check out some of those thrifting online stores like Poshmark or ThreadUp. If you’re like me and just care about how it looks, Plato’s closet is my jam.

5. Do More Research

On a similar note to the previous, begin doing a quick Google search for companies you purchase items from. If they do not post information about how, where, and why their products are made, most likely they are not 100% operating with people or the planet in mind. This is not always the case, but a company that is trying to reduces its waste, pay fair wages to workers, keep their environment safe, and has ethically sourced materials will most likely wave that banner loud and proud. It honestly does not take that much time to checkout if that Instagram Ad you just clicked on is doing business the right way. Just hop on over to their About page. If its vague, see if there is another company producing the same items in a better and more sustainable way.

6. Consider Changing Your Beauty Products

The beauty industry is a classic place for harmful products both to the consumer and the planet. This was a hard place for me to change. I have been using the same products for a long period of time and I did not want to have to pay more to get an environmentally conscious product. I know that sounds selfish, but many of us find ourselves in the same boat. We may not be at the place where we can pay $500 for a 1oz bottle from Gwenyth Paltrow’s Goop shop. #amirightoramiright.

My first major change was ditching tampons for a menstral cup. Let me tell you, it took me YEARS to give this one up. Because….eww. Not to mention every design on the market gave me nightmares of walking out of the bathroom like a scene straight out of Carrie. But when Flex Cup released this design, I was sold. I gave it a try and let me tell you. It is utterly life changing. The first few cycles were a little bit of a learning curve. But to my surprise it worked 100x better than I expected, costed way less over time, and kept all that pesky plastic out of my body AND the landfills. My next investment will be period panties from SheThinx and I am really excited about it. Those two items alone will reduce a significant amount of plastic in my life and put a lot more money back into my monthly budget.

The other area was my hair, face, and makeup. I am used to having to pay a little extra having mixed hair and complexion, but I started looking for companies that used natural ingredients. The fastest way to find a good beauty company is to search for vegan beauty brands. Often times, if they are vegan, they are also environmentally conscious. Not 100% of the time, but it’s a fairly safe bet to start there. Here are my go to’s now:

Hair: Prose

Makeup: Juvia’s Place & e.l.f.

Face Wash/Care: Beautycounter, Mary Louise Cosmetics, Ayele and Co., HyperSkin, Anne’s Apothecary

Feminine Products: Flex Cup, She Thinx

Instagram is a great place to start searching away for amazing and clean beauty. Don’t forget to recycle when you finish up a product! I love repurposing the nicer bottles for various projects.

7. Consider a Plant Based or Vegan Diet

Okay, okay. I can hear your eye roll from here. Look, I never thought in a million years that I would be a zero sugar whole food plant based vegan at 30 years old. It was never a part of my plan. But here I am. And let me tell you, I love this lifestyle! Not only have I had a significant change in how I feel, I have also learned so much more about the food industry in America. I did not become a vegan because of animals (but I do love them so don’t shoot me yet). However, I have found that the way our food industry works is deplorable and that does include the treatment of animals.

If you are unable to drop animal products fully, consider greatly reducing your intake. Or, shoot back up to point 3 and find a local supplier of meat, dairy, and eggs. My husband is not plant-based like I am, but he has reduced his meat intake significantly (without me forcing him!! LOL). This point is probably the hardest to shift because it comes with an investment as well. But if you are purchasing better animal products while also reducing, you’ll find you’ll spend a lot less money than you think.

When in doubt, try to buy local.

8. Take Small Steps

There was a particular stereotype that existed around being environmentally conscious in my mind. While there is some truth in many stereotypes, you should not let that stop you from finding your own way to be a good steward of this planet. Some of you may take a stronger approach than others, but any step towards being kind to God’s Creation is a positive one. Make sure you take small steps. It can be easy to want to become zero-waste overnight. Realistically speaking, it takes time to learn all the information that is out there and is constantly changing. Any small step is a good one!

You Can Do It!

I hope this list is just a small diving board for you to find the ways that you are passionate about being a good steward of your own space. My drive comes from wanting to preserve the beauty of creation as well as being aware of how my dollars may affect human trafficking. Maybe your passion will come from a love of animals, cleaner and healthier products, or wanting to teach your kids how to grow their own food. There is no one way to take this journey and that is the beauty of it! Start with one item on this list or a few! I am still learning and growing but I rejoice in the small steps that God has prompted me to take over the years.

In conclusion, here are a few of my go-to searches and hashtags that have helped me find some of the companies listed above! Happy learning!

  • Clean Beauty Products
  • How to recycle
  • Items you can recycle
  • Vegan small batch beauty products
  • Vegan Makeup Brands
  • Environmentally Conscious Clothing Brands
  • Plant-based clothing, business, beauty
  • Best thrift apps
  • Best Thrift Online Stores
  • #cleanbeauty #veganmakeup #veganhaircare #plantbasedbeauty
  • #zerowastecompanies #zerowastebusiness
Small Steps To Save The World
keep reading
July 20, 2020

Failing Forward 101: Winning When You’re A Loser

I don’t think you are a loser. For all of the countless times I have thought myself a loser, I am not one either. But I cannot get away from the fact that many of my plans have come up short. I’ve missed the mark on more than one occasion. I have full-face-planted failed more times than I’d like to count. It is part of being a human. But what if our relationship with failure changed? What if we allow our greatest losses to lead us to greater wins?

Mother Knows Best

My mother always encourages me to try new things. It has always been this way. She has never been afraid of my ideas failing (…okay…maybe a few…). Even when she doesn’t see eye to eye with my proposed plans, she is supportive. She offers her wisdom and guidance, but knows when to step aside so I can grow through experience. Sometimes that includes failing.

Though I still struggle with coping with my failed attempts, this mindset has been foundational in my life as an entrepreneurial artist. It birthed new life into passions that died many deaths. Even though I had a firm foundation, the majority of my 20s have felt like a bootcamp for creative endeavors. They have been hard years, but equally fruitful in character building. I am thankful, now, for the lessons but I certainly never thought my path would have so many bumps in it.

Goody Goody

Throughout my adolescence I was known as a goody-two-shoes. I excelled at school with minimum effort. Academia was a breeze for me. Other than math, I was always a top student. High school and college were particularly vibrant, joyful, and successful years.

I have medals, certificates, and plaques to commemorate my academic endeavors. I got along with most people and made friends with my professors. As a Vocal Performance Major, I was on stage in front of my fellow students throughout college. Though I never considered myself among the elite popular crowd, I was often on cloud nine. I had achievements and recognition, community and close friendships, meaning in my work and passion for a purpose.

My heart full of idealistic dreams would not be enough to put food on the table.

Little did I know that the world was waiting to ‘pone this newb’ as soon as she walked off that graduation stage. My heart full of idealistic dreams would not be enough to put food on the table. As someone who reveled in her little momentary success, I was ill prepared for the world outside the walls of academia. Vision boards don’t create and sustain budgets on their own.

Perhaps it was pride. Maybe it was naiveté. It may even be the fact that I hadn’t ever had to put in much effort to succeed. Whatever it was, 22-year-old me would begin the long path of misfires that haunt me today as a 30-year-old. I have had my share of victories in the midst of the chaos. I do not mean to paint my life as misery. God has given me much and I hold that with great gratitude (most days). It’s simply that the life of imagined success had a very rude awakening.

Failure to Launch

If you look at the number of inventors, scientists, writers, musicians, businesspeople, and creators that failed more times than they succeeded you would think failure is actually an intrinsic part of success. You should never set out to fail. However, it would be silly to think that everything you attempt will hit the bullseye on the first try.

Failure is just a litmus test to see if your plans worked or not. It does not have an emotion nor does it have an investment in the outcome. It is simply a statement of where you are in the process of achieving your goals.

If you were to spin it just a bit, failure is finding out how NOT to do something. Failure still produces a success, of sorts. If you allow it, it produces greater character, growth, experience, and education. It seems so simple yet the fear of failure is often so intense that paralysis of trying again sets in. How do you overcome the fear if failure is an inevitable part of life?

Death by 1,000 Cuts

After a certain number of tries I began to feel as though my worth was unequivocally tied to my filing cabinet of failure. There are only so many well thought out (and not so well thought out) plans that crumble beneath your feet before you begin to wonder if there is something wrong with YOU.

It was a very slow death of one dream and plan after another. If you don’t belive me, here’s the list of attempts:

  • Bank Teller
  • Real Estate Investor
  • Writer
  • Musician
  • Ministry Director/Worship Leader
  • Blogger
  • Fix & Flipper
  • Retail Worker
  • Bank Teller
  • Photographer
  • Graphic Designer
  • Web Designer
  • Travel Blogger
  • YouTuber
  • T-Shirt Designer
  • Vlogger
  • Online Coach
  • Shipt Shopper

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of all of the crazy ideas I have tried in the past 8 years. I had some success in many of these areas. But overall, each of these steps ended somewhere on the spectrum of ‘total colossal failure’ and ‘didn’t go according to plan’. Most of them ended in tears, seeping of confidence, and creative paralysis.

Expectation vs. Reality

I think there is an unspoken expectation we pick up along the way that we are to find success – love, financial stability, career satisfaction, peak physical health, perfect #squadgoals, spiritual enlightenment, and more – at a very young age. We recognize the dissonance, but we often live under the crushing weight of the unrealistic expectation instead of the healthy balance of reality.

I wish someone would have told me it is okay to find success well after your 20s.

I wish someone would have told me it is okay to find success (whatever that looks like within your particular context) well after your 20s. However ridiculous the notion is, I spent a lot of time berating myself for not ‘having it all together’ earlier. Many of my friends were finding fulfillment in their dreams while I was still wondering what groceries we could afford that week.

Again, I have a good life. It is not misery. And if I zoom out to gain some perspective, it is more than many others have. While it is definitely healthy to gain a little perspective, it is unhealthy to pretend the pain you feel within your own context doesn’t matter. You have to hold both expectation and reality in the balance to find a healthy path forward.

The Way Forward

So enough rambling. Kayla, what are you suggesting is the way forward?

Become an expert at failure. You will undoubtedly fail in your life. There will be times that you have a passion, ask for guidance and wisdom, plan well, put yourself out there, and fall flat on your face. It is inevitable because it is part of the human experience. How else do we grow, mature, change, and learn? As Babe Ruth said, “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”

Become passionate about reframing your failures. Figure out what went well and what didn’t. Listen to others’ constructive criticism without attaching their assessment to your worth. Then, look at your failure as one step closer to your ultimate goal.

Become an advocate for others’ success. Bitterness comes knocking quickly living in the shadow of someone else’s success. The question, ‘why them and not me?’ begins to creep in in an instant. There is no benefit to a bitter heart. Instead, be relentlessly genuine in your celebration of others’ wins. In doing so, you remove the stumbling block of resentment and add fuel to your own fire.

Finally, become obsessed with getting back up. No matter how many times you get knocked down, make a commitment to always get back up. The dreams/passions/plans may change over time. And that is perfectly okay. But no matter what, never allow yourself to give up. If you feel like it is too heavy, then surround yourself with people who will hold you up when you can’t do it on your own.

Friendly Fire

As I sign off here, I want you to know that I am preaching to myself. As always, these words are as much for you as they are for me. Your failure is not your end. It can be a beginning, a turning point, a lesson learned, and experience gained.

I know it can be hard to look over your list of failures and feel like less of a person. But your worth does not come from what you do. Your worthiness is not tied to the number of plans you had work out in the end. You are already chalk-full of value because you are a human being, created and formed for a purpose.

It’s okay to mourn. Heck, I’ve had my fair share of pity parties. Just remember, friend, to not stay there for too long. Success doesn’t look one way and your failures can be leverage to get to your greatest wins. Just remember:

  • Master failing forward
  • Focus on reframing your failures
  • Advocate for others’ successes
  • Always plan to back up
Learning to use failure as a point of greater success.
keep reading
May 8, 2020

My Truest Confession: Writing Without Fear of my Faith


Running With Nowhere to Hide

I have been running from something for some time now. There is a part of me that knew it. There is another part of me that did not. I am a pretty serious empath and tend to care too much about what people think about me. Though I have been working on letting go of what others think about me, there are areas of my life where the fear of peoples’ opinions still has a stronghold. 

I’ve felt called to be a writer, musician, speaker, artist, and traveler. These have been lifelong dreams that I have had glimpses of, but have not been fully realized. I have had many phases of fear moving toward my purpose in these things. At first, it was the run of the mill fear that made me feel like I was not capable or worthy of such dreams.

Then I moved through self-doubt and years of low self-esteem following one of the hardest seasons of my life. Of course, I cannot leave out the many months of laziness, lack of motivation, and Netflix binging. Interspersed in there were bouts of indecision, creative overwhelm, time spent in my counselors office, overcommitment, perfectionism, and endless attempts to start something new. I recently thought this was it – I had figured out my ‘elevator speech’ and focus point for my blog – only to be frustrated by another creative block. 

Many of you know where I stand in my faith. I believe in God. I believe the Bible is true and authoritative for our lives. I have been a Christ follower my whole life and I am not ashamed of that. Or…was I? 


Cheese Fest

Growing up in the church I became painfully aware of how cheesy Christians could be. It was like we were trying to pass knock off versions of Girl Scout cookies as the real thing and call you a liar if you found out. Now, if any of the mainstream Christian media/entertainment world is encouraging and meaningful for you, more power to you. It’s personal preference.

But when I was growing up dealing with suicidal thoughts and deep familial tension, the weird Bible-study-based-on-the-latest-blockbuster-release-in-order-to-be-relevant just wasn’t cutting it. It was cheap and honestly just pissed me off. I had a deep and meaningful relationship with God but the platitudes of people who called themselves Christians just made me ill. God was complex, faithful, beautiful, and near to me. So why was our “Christian Culture” so far from that?

The list goes on from Christian movies, books, conferences, retreats, curriculums, blogs, and more that slapped the name ‘Jesus’ on it but hovered around surface level at best. It may feel like I am being harsh, and I am. What I see in Scripture doesn’t line up with what many Christ followers are offering the world. Not every person and/or church is like this. I have met many wonderful and deeply inspiring Christ followers that I see as role models and mentors. The faith community I am a part of now has been a place of extreme healing.


My Way or the Highway

It is safe to say that I am immediately rolling my eyes if someone says, “hey, you should check out this Christian thing”. There is some jaded-ness in there I’ve gotta work on, I know. But when I felt God tugging me to be a writer, musician, and speaker, I TOLD Him that I wasn’t going to be a Christian one. That world already had too many ridiculously cheesy and not helpful ones and I didn’t want to add to the noise. I am sure at this point God shook His head with a gentle sigh and said, “Alright, go ahead and try it your way”.

I tried the trying-to-be-cool-and-subtly-letting-you-know-I’m-a-Christian approach. I felt like I was being genuine. It was only recently that God showed me I was really being Amy Pholer in Mean Girls proclaiming, “I’m not a regular mom. I’m a cool mom. I’m a cool Christian”. I laughed and simultaneously gagged a little at what I was attempting. I cannot separate myself from my faith. I see everything through the lens of what God has done for me and what He is doing in the world. I cannot pretend to be ‘cool’ to the world when it comes to my faith because my faith is not ‘cool’.


That’s Not What I Said

I don’t know how many times I have said it, but I will say it again and again and again. God literally saved my life. From suicide. From crushing anxiety and depression. From fear. From giving into addictions. My faith isn’t some ‘cool’ thing I ascribe to and derive meaning from. It is my foundation and the most intimate part of who I am. 

With that harsh yet enlightening discovery, God said to me, “I never asked you to be another cheesy Christian writer. I never asked anybody to be that. I asked if you would be willing to be vulnerable with people, share your stories of victory, eat at the same table, and let people in on what I am doing in your life. I want you to be different, that’s why I made you that way. Would you be willing to do that for me?”

I was trying to do this whole thing without including my faith in God. I’ve been destroyed by multiple churches before so I know what Christian people are capable. I know what people are capable of. I know that there are abuses in the past and present that come from people who share my faith. I was afraid that if I ever truly spoke openly about my faith with others I would be grouped into the same group of people that hurt me most. I was afraid of being labeled as all the negative things that come to mind when you think of the ‘crazy Christians’ (in a bad way lol). 


Truth Hurts

I am human. I am going to make mistakes while carrying my cross of Christ. I am going to say things and make assumptions about people in a way that makes Jesus look like a farce. I am simply on a journey to becoming more like Him even when I mess it up. And it is a looooooong journey of transformation. I have a long list of mistakes that continues to grow, hopefully at a slower rate over time. But my hearts desire is always growth. I know that and do not have to try and convince others of that. My life will have to hold the evidence of the fruit. 

The truth is, people may group me in with the same people I don’t want to be grouped with. I cannot control that. But to separate the most intimate part of my life from my deepest longings and dreams while trying to tout it as ‘being real’ is fake, irresponsible, and not fair to you. I have always promised to be vulnerable and open with people. I cannot do that apart from my faith. 


New Direction

Overall, I think the vision I had for the Rooted Journal was always what God had in mind. I’m writing this declaration for myself, so that I can set this as a cornerstone for the future. I also am writing this for you. I will be writing more about my faith. You may not believe the same things that I do. You are always more than welcome. But, I also understand if it isn’t something you want to participate in either. Either way, there’s always room at my table. I may not be perfect, but I am progressing.

I’ll be focusing a lot of my writing on faith related topics as well. I still want to talk style, beauty/fashion, home DIY projects, health and fitness, gardening, and more! But I think it is unfair to everyone, myself included, to keep my identity as a Christ follower in the shadows in an attempt to gain a wider audience. Wow, that sounds really ugly writing that out loud. Yet, I promised I would be honest.

Thank you for sharing this space with me. This is who I am and I cannot pretend to be anything else. I think my years of creative blocks and creative overwhelms are proof that running from yourself really doesn’t work. Know that I love you and I am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. May this weird blog confession thing find you in good health and good spirits!

My Truest Confession
keep reading