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 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.
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.
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.
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’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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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!
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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:
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.
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 (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.
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.
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:
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?
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.
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’.
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).
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.
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!
Last Fall I started a compost pile. To be completely honest, I have no idea what I am doing. I have read up on all the latest information on composting and I have found it may not be for me. I have promised myself to give it until this upcoming Fall and reassess. If you are not familiar with composting, it is a way to recycle organic matter like grass clippings, fruit/veggie cuttings, coffee grounds, ect. When you throw this all together in a strange lasagna type concoction, it breaks down over time to create a nutrient-rich soil. Many farmers and gardeners call this “black gold”. It is highly sought after because it helps create a healthy foundation for plants to flourish.
Three months ago I was planning content for The Rooted Journal and its social media accounts. After some thinking and praying, I decided to center around the word “Cultivate” in the month of April. With the world in upheaval, I had no idea how perfect it would all fit into the present. The dictionary defines cultivate like this:
There is a four letter cuss word that cultivate hinges on: work. Everyone enjoys the produce off a lush garden. But talk to any farmer/gardener and they will tell you it is hard work. It takes a lot of sweat on the back end in order to enjoy the organic produce from your back yard. It comes as no surprise that Jesus often used farming metaphors to impart wisdom or teach a concept. Our hearts and lives are a lot like the soil in a famers field. It is has the capacity to produce a harvest if we cultivate it. You cannot have a healthy harvest if you have unhealthy soil.
Where do we acquire this healthy soil to sow seeds for a harvest? We recycle the “unwanted parts” of our lives. When you chop up veggies for a stew, there are “ugly parts” you take the blade of your knife to. The stems, ends, and rough parts were all part of the entire plant at one point and essential during the growth process. When it comes to harvest them, however, we slice those pieces off. In the same way, there are moments in our lives that look or feel ugly that we want to chop off and throw away. Maybe you were at a party and felt lonely because you didn’t know anybody. Maybe you lost a friend. Maybe you are an extrovert stuck inside for an indefinite amount of time. Maybe you have no idea when your paycheck will start up again.
There are pieces of our lives, both big and small, that we want to cut off and throw away. But may I challenge you that perhaps these are the moments to compost rather than trash. Though we often throw away the cuttings from the kitchen, they can be essential food to produce a healthy composted soil. What was once unsightly and disposed has now been graphed into the foundation for a healthy crop that will one day find itself on your kitchen counter again. May I submit to you that the unsightly, bruised, and unwanted moments of your life can be “composted” to create a fertile foundation for growth and abundance?
Life is a cyclical journey of growth with changing seasons. We want to live fruitful lives. Valuable things come from valuable time invested. As you find yourself in this new season I encourage you to take a look at the moments you can compost. You are stuck inside during this pandemic. Compost it. Perhaps that time can become the pivot that your family needed to reconnect and flourish. You don’t know where your next paycheck is coming from. Compost it. Maybe this is a time for you to reach out to those who love you for help. You are missing your elderly loved ones. Compost it. Now you are finding time to recognize what your heart has taken for granted.
Those are just a few examples specific to walking through this pandemic. But the concept applies to every area and season of our lives. In our eagerness to complain about uncomfortable moments, there is a harvest waiting to be cultivated. I encourage you to take this next month to turn your perspective to a positive one. Preaching to Facebook choirs is rarely profitable for anyone. What is profitable is establishing a new rhythm of prioritizing positive perspectives. It is not disingenuous or gullible happiness. It is changing your lenses to view life through peace. Take in the good. Then acknowledge the things that need to be grieved, trim them, and compost them. As you continue to compost these moments through life, you will always have healthy soil on hand to sow new seeds in. Then, you wait for your harvest.
I think we all want to live healthy, full, and meaningful lives. We all have dreams, goals, visions, ideas, and hopes for what we want to accomplish. There is a pathway to progress and the roadmap will look different for each person. But one thing remains the same. Our actions/behaviors help determine if we get there.
An olympian cannot simply will themselves to a gold medal. A doctor cannot simply hope for a good surgery. A person cannot simply close their eyes while driving and manifest themselves to a destination. A farmer cannot simply sow good thoughts into the ground and hope to produce a harvest. It takes work.
We form habits either intentionally or unintentionally. It is how the brain works. The brain learns what is rewarding and what is painful and adjusts accordingly. That is a very crude understanding of habits, but you get the picture.
Mental health professionals often give those who suffer from panic attacks tools to ground themselves back in reality. It could be as simple as counting ceiling tiles or taking ten deep breaths. After a major concussion in college, I suffered from intense panic attacks for about a year. These grounding techniques helped pull me back from overwhelming emotions and refocus me on what was happening in the present moment when I was in the middle of an attack. I have carried those tools with me ever since.
I was in a very dark season of my life when I started to apply this technique on a larger scale. I began to ask the question, “could healthy habits, patterns, and routines help me reach a more holistic rhythm of living?” I could see that happy, healthy, and successful people had routines. While I did not like routine, could these things help me in the way that grounding techniques helped me during my panic attacks? When I was in a major funk in my mind, body, and soul, could healthy rhythms help set a course for healing? For progress?
Of course I am not the only one to think about this. There are plenty of scientific studies that show the affects of good and bad habits on a persons overall health. AA is an entire program designed around similar concepts which help alcoholics live their lives free of addiction and get back on their feet again. But what I was seeing from self-proclaimed self-help gurus did not seem appealing. Everybody had quick tips to a healthy life. My journey was taking a lot longer.
You have probably heard it said that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Turns out there’s not a whole lot of science behind that statement. Dr. Maxwell Maltz was the person credited to have said this but the crazy thing is, he didn’t actually say it. He said it took a MINIMUM of 21 days in order for an old mental image to dissipate and a new mental image to stick. A recent study shows it can take between 2 months to 8 months to establish a new habit. There’s a really awesome article about it here.
The first time I read this it blew me away because I had been experiencing the same thing. Some of the rhythms I was beginning to incorporate into my life were taking much longer than 21 days to establish. Sometimes, it was months before I would see it stick. But as long as I was committed to the process I saw overall progress.
In that same study, they showed that you did not have to be perfect in order for the habit to form. In other words, if you planned on going to the gym 5 days a week and you miss a day, it’s okay. The habit can still be formed as long as the commitment was solid.
It may be a crazy notion, but it is okay to tweak a lifestyle change to fit what works best for you. In 2019, I made the shift to a (mostly) plant based lifestyle. It was a personal choice that came out of a time of spiritual fasting. During that year, I also shifted to an intermittent fasting routine. That may sound like a lot, but I adjusted it so that I would be successful and enjoy it. I give myself 10% leniency a week in my “food budget” for times that I want to enjoy food outside my regular routine or I am somewhere that I don’t have access to those types of foods. I shoot for a 16:8 daily fasting routine, but I am not overall worried if its not EXACTLY that ratio.
These two shift have been life-changing for me. Even though I am not performing them perfectly as prescribed, I still find incredible benefits and joy in them. Why? Because I am committed to the overall purpose. I want to live a long, healthy, and energized life well into my grey-haired years. I don’t want to be stopped by my own body as I get older, within what is in my ability to control. And that is a powerful reason to commit to overall healthy lifestyle changes.
If we are not intentional about training our brain to engage in healthy rhythms, it will train itself. I got to a place in my life where I was tired of having no direction, no goals, no strategy, and no progress in the things that mattered to me. I had these big dreams deep down, but no idea how to start. So I never started and I hoped it would magically happen on its own. It seems silly to say out loud now, but I know from conversations with others that I am not the only one. We are often plagued by all the things we “should do” that we never start on the path for the things we are passionate to do.
I do not enjoy structure. I push against it as hard as I can. If you are anything like me, then you know how hard it is to commit to any lifestyle change. Even if I’m the one setting the course, a part of me wants to say, “don’t tell me what to do”. It’s what author Steven Pressfield in his book the War of Art calls Resistance. “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stand Resistance.” It’s that sly and vile force that hijacks our dreams and turns them into a pile of unfinished good intentions.
In order to create habits and rhythms that will actually make a difference in our lives, we must commit to the process. That means getting back up when you fall off the wagon. That means showing up day after day after day until the behavior becomes reflexive. That means throwing away excuses that have held you back for years. That means sitting with yourself long enough to discover what really matters to you. And perhaps that is the scariest part of the journey.
It is said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. It is a great slogan for coffee mugs but it is more powerful when you actually take it at face value. We live in a time in history when we can have what we want faster than ever. While there are many positives that come with forward progression, it leaves us addicted to instant gratification. If we cannot get our bikini body in a few months, we want out. But we are going to complain and speak poorly about ourselves the whole way.
There is an intricate balance of contentment and aspiration. We should be inspired to grow, change, explore, discover, and create. But once we have committed to the longer journey of establishing healthier habits, we must also be content with who we are at the present moment. We must honor who we are in the present while also pushing ourselves towards growth. We must accept the full journey of personal transformation. A caterpillar does not hate the fact that it is a caterpillar even though one day it will become a butterfly. Like my husband says, you’ve got to find beauty and value in where you are at now.
All of this to say, the journey to a more holistic, healthy, and fulfilled life comes in small steps that reinforce the greater picture. Progress over perfection. If we are focused on perfection, we often find that progress never happens. If we are focused on progress, the change often happens in a more successful and meaningful way.
In order to break out of a funk or make peace with the fact that structure can be our best ally, accepting that the journey may take a lot longer than we expect is pivotal. It is important to push yourself, I understand that. If you’ve got a deadline, you’ve got a deadline and there’s really nothing you can do about it. But if you decide to make a major lifestyle change, you have got to start on the micro level. Maybe you want to be a morning person so instead of setting your alarm for 4:00AM when you’re used to getting up at 7:00AM, consider moving your alarm clock up in 15 minute increments over the course of a few months. Give yourself a chance to win.
There was a study done where they observed children on playgrounds with and without a fence/boundary. The discovered that those children without a fenced-in playground explored less and stayed closer to the teacher. On the other hand, those children with a fenced-in playground explored to the farthest reaches of the boundaries. Creativity without any structure paralyses and holds us back from reaching out as far as we can. Structure, habits, and routines can be our greatest ally.
There are many lessons that could be pulled from these observations. What I glean from it is that there is safety in framework. There is a freedom that comes with setting up boundaries with ourselves and others. The structures and routines that scared me most can actually be my greatest weapon to breakthrough.
Now before you go planning out the ten lifestyle changes you have been dying to implement over the years, remember that they have to truly matter to you. The motivation behind the shift must be weighty enough to carry you through the times when you want to give up. You have to accept that it might take longer than you think to establish a new rhythm and commit to the process. And last, but certainly not least, you have to take it slow.
If you push against any kind of routine like I do, then you understand how hard it can be to implement a lifestyle change that is important to you. I am currently reading Atomic Habits by James Clear and The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg in order to learn more about sustainable habits in our lives. A lot of the ideas that have been rumbling around in my head actually have scientific basis for what I am experiencing. I am still learning the language to describe my experience, but it has been eye opening to say the least.
Maybe you’re in a rough season and you’re desperate to find some footing in the midst of the chaos. Maybe you’ve just come out of a rough season but don’t know where to begin again. Maybe you’re tired of not following through on your plans and beating yourself up for it. I have a few questions I want you to consider. What would you life look like if you lived in the rhythms and habits you want to implement? What if a little bit of structure, done in kindness to yourself, was your ally? What if you could eliminate some stress and anxiety by having predictable patters that grounded you? What would it look like if you were living your ‘unlived life’?
I hope to dive deeper into the process of forming a habit, but there’s some awesome starter info here. I am not a guru and I cannot give you ‘x’ number of steps to the correct pathway to inner peace. But I can share my story with you and the things that have greatly impacted my life. I can tell you that it takes time and it takes a lot of commitment to be kind to yourself along the way. I have some tangible lessons I can pass along, but its a personal journey. I can tell you that its been a huge positive shift in my life. It has given me the ability to walk in hope and confidence. My greatest desire in sharing my story is that you’d find the same things.