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.
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February 6, 2020

Eating Plants: A Short Guide to Transitioning to a (Mostly) Plant-Based Lifestyle

As you all know, plant-based is all the rage these days with fast food giants like Burger King sporting the new Impossible Burger. Historically the world has seen its fair share of diet and fitness fads come and go. There are some fads that turn out to be quite beneficial, even if their marketing focuses on profiting from peoples’ low self-esteem. When I hopped on the plant-based train, it was after rolling my eyes for quite some time at the whole thing. My journey started with a spiritual fast in which I ate a primarily vegan diet for a month. After the fast, I felt so amazing that I decided to stick to it. I have heard a lot of people consider taking this route as well, and figured I’d drop some quick tips for those who are considering taking the plunge!

So, what does it mean to be plant-based anyways? Being plant-based is pretty self-explanatory. Just like it sounds, it is eating only foods that come from plants. No animal products are consumed (or at least significantly avoided) on a full plant-based diet. It is very similar to being vegan, but true vegans also exclude all animal products from their entire life including makeup, clothing, and more! If you want the detailed rundown on the difference, there’s a great article about it here.

These tips are specifically geared towards people on a tight budget as well, so you can expand upon these as much or as little as needed. Here we go!

Don’t Go Cold Turkey!

Start Slow! Unless you know that going cold turkey works well for you, take this as a process! Do not go raid your fridge and chuck everything out and replace it with new and approved plant-based items! Not only can that be incredibly expensive, it may derail you before you even begin. As you finish up certain items, start replacing them with plant based alternatives. If you run out of butter, opt for a plant based version the next time around. This one is my favorite! Once you finish off that gallon of milk, grab a plant-based alternative! 

Pick A Percentage, Set A Goal!

What is your end goal for transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle? Do you want to be 100% hardcore one day? Or would you like to get to substituting half of your food for rich plant-based alternatives? Pick a ratio and work your way up to it. I stick to a 90/10 ratio. That means that I eat 90% plant based and allow 10% for times when I want something that outside of those parameters. I would like to get to 100% plant-based, but that may take me a while and I am 100% okay with that! Any step you take toward eating a more plant filled diet is a good step. Maybe start off with a 20/80 ratio. What is one item you could live without for 2 weeks? Could you cut out milk? Eggs? Deli Meat? Pick one of those things and stick to it! See how you feel after a few weeks and begin upping your plant based ratio! This way you can work toward your over end goal in a healthy and sustainable way!

Keep It Simple!

One of my biggest mistakes when I first went plant-based was trying to find all of these complex vegan substitutes and recipes. It was already difficult to make that transition, so trying to make it more complicated with recipes or food I wasn’t used to the taste of made it more difficult! Plant based is as simple as this: eat fruits, vegetables (especially those leafy greens!), legumes, and whole grains. Substitute milk for almond or oat milk. Change out your butter for a vegan, non-soy option or olive oil. If you are not a cook like me and need something to help your transition over with meat, try these! I love them and they are easy to make! I am not a huge fan of salads, but they are easy to make and incredibly budget friendly. You can add lots of fruits, veggies, and nuts to give it a full flavor! You will get overwhelmed if you start pinning recipes from Pinterest! Vegan/Plant-Based cooking takes a little bit of finesse, and there are a lot of ingredients you will not have in your pantry when you start out. Grab a bag of apples, carrots, hummus, peanut butter, and celery for easy on the go snacks. Remember, keep it simple at the beginning!

Master Reading Ingredients

I always look for the vegan icon on foods to let me know its safe to consume! But if you’re like me and you’re on a budget, sometimes I grab items that don’t have milk or eggs in them, but may have been made in a facility around milk and eggs. A lot of breads, cereals, grains, and milk substitutes fall under this category. Sure, in a perfect world I’d like to get all my items organic, local, non GMO, vegan, ect. But when you’re on a budget, you do the best you can. Remember, ANY step towards a healthier lifestyle is a good step. Become a master at reading labels. Check for milk and eggs. But, while you’re at it, if you cannot pronounce the ingredient, it’s probably best to skip it. 

Don’t Give Up (And Drink Water)

Anybody will tell you that drinking more water is good for you. If you are making any kind of significant changes to your diet, its always good to drink more water. On top of that, don’t give up! If you make an oops and eat more than your ratio for that week, don’t sweat it! Just keep going! There have been weeks that I consumed way more dairy, eggs, or meat than I have committed to eating. Even though my body wasn’t very happy with me, I didn’t give up! I kept to my overall commitment for a living a better lifestyle and did better next time! 


Hopefully this gives you a very easy overview of transitioning to a plant-based (or more of) diet! Feel free to reach out with more questions! I am not a nutritionist or have any medical background. I’m just a girl who loves food but wants to feel amazing by the food I choose to fuel me. 

Transitioning to a Plant=Based Diet
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January 1, 2020

3 Reasons Why I Love The New Year

Happy New Year everyone! You may be like many others who roll their eyes at ringing in the new year as people make hectic resolutions to improve their current situation. I, on the other hand, love the new year. Sure there will be many to make lofty goals and bail out within a month or two, but I still love it. Why? Thanks for asking!


New Beginnings

Just because the new year has begun does not mean everything in the past year stays stuck in the past year. If I had debt, that sucker is coming with me much to my dismay! But there is, however, something magical about the past year dropping off the calendar. It feels like a fresh start, a new beginning, or a second (or 500th) chance. Newness seems to enliven the soul and give it a new perspective for the future. There’s something powerfully motivating about having a new page to write on. There are so many possibilities and excitement flowing about in the atmosphere of our creative minds. The limitations that we face feel a little less scary in the wake of a new start. That particular feeling is precious to me at the new year. Depending on the year that I’ve had, sometimes I need that boost of energy to knock me into fresh vision. Which brings me to my next favorite part about this time of year…


Hindsight

While this can be painful, the new year always reminds me of who I was and what I experienced. Sometimes that can stack up to be a very painful year, sometimes full of joy. It shows me how far I have come. That can be the burst of confidence I need or the kick in the pants to get my butt in gear. While we shouldn’t dwell in the past or live in fear of it, I truly believe the past gives us our lessons for the future. The past is like a rose; its beauty has been praised throughout history but it is not without its thorns. It is in need of pruning and care. This past year may come with a number of thorns, but there is always beauty in it. It is the passport that proves we were here, took up space, and were a part of this world. I can’t help but get a little nostalgic when I prepare for the new year. I’m not the same person I was last year. Neither are you. And sometimes that is worth celebrating.  


Renewal

Possibly one of my favorite parts about new years is that people tend to think the best about themselves. Even if they have no plan of action to sustain their resolutions, people have confidence in themselves that they can shift into a healthier place. In a world where so many people suffer from low self-esteem, I love watching people believe in themselves again, even if for a moment. It’s that time of year where there is a sense of renewed motivation and excitement for the future. People begin to dream again and set themselves to new adventures. You know what I feel this time of year? Hope. It feels like a whole lot of hope is in the air. Even if it is only for a moment, it truly is wonderful. 


I eagerly hope that you harness the energy and newness of this beginning into your dreams, goals, and aspirations. I know I have a lot of vision for this year – decade really! – and I am ready to get moving on those adventures! I pray today is filled with hope for new things and resolve to hold onto the freshness of it all! Happy 2020! We’re coming for you!

New Year, Same Me
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November 26, 2019

Good Things Come To Those Who Work

Good Things Come To Those Who Work

It happened again the other day. I was sitting in bed, eating (non-dairy) chocolate chips, watching Golden Girls on DVD, and having an existential crisis. My mind was slowly slipping away into a pit of despair as I contemplated just how little I had accomplished in my life. As usual, I spent a fair bit of time moping about and wondering why life was blocking me from moving forward. It took about a millisecond to come up with a laundry list of reasons why I was unable to make any headway in my dreams/goals. It was then that my hubby began to talk me off of the ledge. He said, “You’ve been talking about being a writer and musician since we got married, yet in the five and a half years of being married you’ve never really done anything about that. Why do you try so hard to push against those dreams?”

I have heard “your dreams don’t work unless you do” enough times to make me physically ill. I gently nod my head with a yeah, yeah and move on to continue my dreary and dramatic moping. When Darryl asked me about my dreams, goals, and desires this mantra came to my mind. As he questioned where all my whimsical determination had gone, in typical fashion, I came up with an array of excuses why life had set me too far back. He gently continued to coax me to dig a little deeper. It was not long before I had run out of excuses and had to face the music. I was not moving forward because I was not working. He could see right through me. 

They say that good things come to those who wait. Honestly, I think it could also be said that good things come to those who work. Work has become a cuss word to many of us. It does not matter what your background is, many of us struggle to embrace the idea of work as a good thing. We associate work with a dreaded 9-5 job where we are simply another cog in the machine. Of course this incorporates a type of work, but it is a job. A job is a place of employment. Work is action. Perhaps part of the problem is first finding purpose that is meaningful and therefore worthy of our best work. But even when some of us find that kind of work, there can be major mental blocks that stop us from ever putting in the effort. Maybe it’s fear. Maybe it’s past hurt. Maybe it’s new limitations we have to learn to live with. 

Or maybe you are like me and realize that you put just enough effort in to make it look like you are working, but not enough effort to create forward momentum. I am the master of working a lot and never getting anything done. I don’t want to be thought of as lazy so I do a lot of things. I also enjoy the path of least resistance and quickly jump from task to task to avoid conflict and/or hardship. But I had to face myself in the mirror and recognize that some of the reasons why I’m still stuck in a rut is because I expect 110% reward for 20% effort. And that my friends was a very ugly truth I had to face. 

I never set out to be that person. I do work hard but I also work on peripheral tasks that take away from meaningful work. When I spend so much time on tasks that distract me its easy to feel like I am getting a lot accomplished. At the same time I’m only ever really moving laterally. Many of us have been there before. Let me set the scene. You want to have a profitable blog so you dreamcast, create the perfect vision board, find your perfect niche, and get your branding on point. Now all you need is the content. Suddenly, you’re struck with paralysis but decide you’ve got to start somewhere. This blog isn’t going to write itself.

You begin with the goal of writing one blog post. That is manageable and realistic. You get distracted when you get to your desk because your office space has clutter so you decide to quickly tidy up. As you are cleaning off your desk you end up with a pile of papers that need to be organized. Since you still have a fair bit of motivation you figure you’ll get those organized. Once you finish organizing those papers, you notice you have no folders or place to put your newly organized pile of papers. After looking around you settle on a shelf you can rearrange to make space for the papers. As you do that, those items need a new home and decide to take them to a shelf the living room. When you get to the living room, there are a few odds and ends lying on that shelf that need to be moved in order to re-home your displaced items. This continues on and on and before you know it, you’ve gathered laundry, done the dishes, swept the floor, begun organizing your pantry, cleaned out the car, organized your purse, taken the dog on a walk, ran to the store for folders, stopped at your favorite coffee shop (and stayed for a half an hour chat), run a few errands, stopped by a thrift store, grabbed a few groceries that were on sale, washed the dog, and made umpteen number of lists for various projects. Finally, you sit back down at your computer to write that blog and realize you are completely out of motivation and the day is gone. 

Don’t get me wrong, I wish I actually got this much done by accident. If you are in a similar boat as I am, you can definitely relate to this rat race. But I am trying to prove a point here. If writing that first blog post is the first step in your dreams/goals, then all those other tasks have derailed you. Another day has past and you’ve half-way and haphazardly checked off some to-do items but haven’t really gotten anywhere. You have focused your best energy on tasks that don’t require your best energy. 

I am a huge victim of this. I waste the best of myself on tasks that do not actually require the best of myself. It was such a brutal realization to come to, but I have reached the end of my long list of excuses. A lot of life has happened and that definitely counts for something. Eventually life does move on with or without me. It does not wait for me to be fully prepared to jump back in. Eventually, I have to look at myself in the mirror and accept that the healing process is complete and I am allowing fear to stagnate me. As a millennial I hate being labeled as ‘entitled’ but there are definitely times I can feel myself leaning into that identity. I want life to be easy. Who doesn’t? I want to run at the first sign of resistance. But resistance creates pressure. Pressure creates power. And that power can be wielded to accomplish some really amazing things. 

I am reclaiming the concept of work as a lifelong purpose rather than a dreary-some burden. I am learning to accept when resistance comes and leverage it for purpose. I am trying to promise the best of myself to the most meaningful work first. It will take time to reset that mindset, no doubt! But I want to give my best effort to the work that is most meaningful to me. If the journey truly is the destination then the end success isn’t the highest priority. The highest priority is waking up every day and giving your best energy to the work regardless of the outcome. 


Disclaimer: This is an online journal of my personal musings. They are here as I wrestle through life as an encouragement to you. I am a Christ follower and my faith is very important to me. If we don’t share the same faith, political stances, background, or opinions, I believe you are of great value and hope you find a slice of encouragement just as much as someone who does. I disable comments to avoid trolls and my own ego, but reach out directly to me if you’d like to converse. 

Treasured Roots Orange Jumper
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November 13, 2019

30 Quotes From My Eclectic Movie Favs As I Roll Into 30

Today is my birthday and while many mourn the day they shift out of their 20s, I revel in it. I am excited for a new stage of life! I also realized today that I get to spend the entirety of my 30s in the 20s! Do I hear Great Gatsby themed parties for the decade?! I have a wide range of taste in both music and television, so I figured I’d compile list of quotes from some of my favorite movies that accurately describe my life currently and the journey up to 30. Some are funny, some are serious. Hope you enjoy! Here’s a little tidbit: you’re going to get older no matter what. Make every age a blast.

  1. “A heart is a heavy burden.” -Howl’s Moving Castle 
  2. “You are like a baby. Making noise, don’t know what to do.” -Avatar
  3. “I’d cry if only I had the time to do it.” -The Help
  4. “All I’m saying is, kindness don’t have no boundaries.” -The Help
  5. “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” -Shawshank Redemption
  6. “The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry.” -Shawshank Redemption
  7. “Jurry duty, jury duty, jury duty, black mail, pink slip, chain letter, eviction notice, jury duty.” -How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  8. “I’ve had a vision so great, as it came to me I wept.” -Waterworld
  9. “Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot.” -Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  10. “It may be normal, darling; but I’d rather be natural.” -Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  11. “I can’t go out tonight. *cough cough* I’m sick.” -Mean Girls
  12. “Eat my shorts.” – The Breakfast Club
  13. “Screws fall out all the time, the world’s an imperfect place.” -The Breakfast Club
  14. “Do. Or do not. There is no try.: -The Empire Strikes Back
  15. “You gotta hear this one song. It’ll change your life, I swear.” -Garden State
  16. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” -A New Hope
  17. “Just keep swimming.” -Finding Nemo
  18. “Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous.” -The Hunger Games
  19. “Never tell me the odds.” -The Empire Strikes Back
  20. “You shall not pass!” -Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
  21. “Humans act so strange.” -Fifth Element
  22. “Somebody help me, I’m being spontaneous!” -The Truman Show
  23. “Will I see you tonight? ….’I never make plans that far ahead.’” -Casablanca
  24. “It’s beat up. But it will do the job.” -Book of Eli
  25. “We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What maters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” -Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  26. “Just because you have the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn’t mean we all have.” Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  27. “For every shadow, no matter how deep, is threatened by morning light.” -The Fountain
  28. “Unless you make peace with your past, you won’t have a future.” -Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
  29. “Nothing is lost. Everything is transformed.” -The Neverending Story
  30. “To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.” – Secret Life of Walter Mitty
30 Movie Quotes As I Move Into My 30s
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