02 January 2015

Top 10 Reads in 2014

I have to admit that every book I read in 2014 was not a brand-new 2014 publication. Many of them were older books, but some of them were actually new and terrific! You can see all 47/50 of my books over on GoodReads but I've listed my top 10 on the blog. Most of these books were personal growth books and I learned so much from them! If you follow me on Instagram, I'm sure you've seen quotes from several if not all of them - I like to share a good thing when I find it.

#GirlBoss - Sophia Amoruso 
The Power of Starting Something Stupid - Richie & Natalie Norton
 Moment Maker - Carlos Whitaker
One Way Love - Tullian Tchividjian 
EGO vs EQ - Jen Shirkani
Crush It! - Gary Vaynerchuk
Captivating - Stasi Eldredge
Unglued - Lysa Terkeurst
Everyday Life Bible - Ed. Joyce Meyers 

I've also set three new goals for my reading in 2015:

I will not finish books I don't like

I will not buy any more books until I finish the books I already have

I will finish 50 books by December 31, 2015

What books would you recommend for 2015? (Hopefully they're already in my collection, if not, I'll head to the library!)

31 December 2014

My Path:: Part III

When I reached my adulthood, I was going to eat chow mein and lemon chicken out of those glamorous square Chinese food cartons and eat cookie dough ice cream out of the carton for dessert. That was what adulthood would look like.  Or, at least that’s the picture my eight year old self painted. That was also around the time I was going to have pizza and English toffee at my wedding reception. Some things have changed since then (thankfully!). I had the perfect picture of what Adulthood would be about-making my own decisions and create my own structure. 

But adulthood is not about that.

Adulthood is understanding when plans change. Adulthood is giving friends space when they need it and being there to catch them when they need that too. Adulthood is feeling emotions that you never felt (or at least in a different way) in the years prior. Adulthood is grieving with someone’s loss knowing that your life isn’t eternal. Adulthood is the realization that you will never be the best at everything, but that you might be able to get pretty good at something. Adulthood is loving, both conditionally and unconditionally and letting go of relationships which are toxic to you. Adulthood is creating a healthy, productive life. Adulthood is cultivating the path you want to take. 

I read the quote “Nothing will ruin your 20’s more than thinking you should have your life together already.” It fit with the way I felt this year – like I really should have it all together by now.
I arrived in my twenties as a college senior, ready to conquer the world. I arrived with a position, a purpose and a passion for the things I was doing at that time. Over the last few years, that position changed, my purpose has shifted and my passion has redirected itself into another direction. But, the constant is Jesus. Even though I feel inferior or at times, even a failure, because my life isn’t 100% together, I have Jesus.

I find purpose in Jesus. My position doesn’t matter to him, because my place as His daughter has never changed. My passion is Him—and everything I do should be an extension of my relationship with Him. My path is directed by Him. 

I realized in 2014 that I am an adult, making adult decisions. Why didn't I realize this before? Probably because this has been the year that my freedoms have been recognized in my own heart. I’ve been forced to pass tests that I wondered previously if I’d be strong enough to pass. With God’s help I passed. And, in this year, I’ve taken the time to understand my journey, before taking action in any particular area. My word for the year was Engage, with the tag of with great heart. I wanted to engage with people, feelings, my own self with great heart, not just surface level.

My word for 2014: ENGAGE.

My word for 2015: ACTION.

I’ve already engaged with the feelings, friends and decisions that will probably stay constant in 2015, this year is all about action to further that engagement.

I need to study to pass the CPA Exam.

I need to invest in my future – financially and emotionally.

I need to love on my friends and family, and make time for them.

I need  to focus  on Action this year in order to stop talking about what I’m going to do, and actually do it.

Today I learned of the death of an example of beautiful womanhood. Life is not guaranteed, at any age. Most of this post was already written before I learned the news, but I had to include this last piece. It’s a well-worn cliché, but what if you died tomorrow? What would be said of you? What could be said of you? What did you accomplish? Did you fulfill your God-given potential? Or were there things you left undone, words left unspoken and relationships left unfinished? The last time I spoke with this individual I hesitated in approaching her, thinking she had more important people to talk to (which she did), but she made time for me. She was encouraging, uplifting and gave the warmest hugs.  She truly engaged people with her mind and heart acting together. I want to be like that.

Are the goals you’ve set for yourself more peaceful and intangible similar to my engage for 2014? Or are they harder, tangible, streamlined goals of action? Whatever they are, I hope you will remember that you only get the opportunity to live once. Your goals should reflect the life YOU want to live, not what you think society demands. The only thing that I allow to shape my goals is my relationship with God. Above all else, I want Him to be pleased and glorified in the goals and actions I choose to make.  

What are your goals this year? I’d love to hear them and pray with you as you go forward into accomplishing them! 

30 December 2014

My Path:: Part II

I unfollowed my favorite person on Instagram today. The running joke approx.  a year ago was “If Ryan has it, Charity wants it.” It was tough letting go. This person was my very favorite feed on my whole Instagram. Photography, Culture, Style, you name it. But recently, I  realized this person’s feed wasn’t feeding my soul, rather it was leeching the joy and gratitude out of it. I was allowing this person’s feed to eat at me in ways that I didn’t comprehend until I saw one post that made me go “I want…” and realized that was the problem with this feed: it bred discontent in me. So, today, I unfollowed.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with his feed and I’ll probably check back in from time-to-time, because I do appreciate the photography, but letting go was important at this stage of my life because I need to focus on where I am and being content in that place. Not always wanting more and adding to my bucket list. My path is not contingent on my bucket list.

So what about that bucket list? I have one. In fact, I want to share it on the blog. What’s stopping me? I would like to know, in my own heart, that my bucket list is created from a place of wholeness and balanced being. I would like to know that it is created from a place of spiritual maturity in Christ, not just from wishful thinking and desires that feed my own selfish wants. And my bucket list should feed my soul, not leech it of joy and contentment. 

This last year I let go of several things:

I let go of my dream job. (Some things look good until you get there.)
I let go of perceived external expectations – what I thought others were thinking or expecting
I let go of preconceived notions of my path and let it unfold prayerfully.
I let go of baggage. (just straight up kissed it goodbye!)
I let go of tangible “material” desires in order to pursuit intangible ones.(that'll preach)
I let go of longing for the things which are not in my current season. (they will come in time)

Some of the things I let go of were dreams and desires that I’ve held dear to my heart for many years. But they needed to go. I’m an adult. I’m a grown-up person who is setting a path that needs to be straight, not meandering. I want to set a path others can follow easily. In my current profession, we call it an audit trail, a trail that another person can easily pick up and follow. I want to inspire people to follow their own path by the way I designed my own. Letting go is part of this. Letting go of the dreams which bound me in order to follow those that feed my spiritual path.

What do you have that isn’t feeding your soul? I read a quote recently that said “Entitlement kicks Gratitude out the back door.” I loved it. Isn’t that so true? When we feel entitled to deserve, or to receive, we are no longer able to be grateful for the gifts already in our lives.

This New Year’s, I’m letting go. I’m letting go of the things which would hold me back. Focusing on moving forward and not looking behind. Surrounding myself with things that lift me higher and cultivate gratitude. Will you join me? 

29 December 2014

My Path: Part I

Rants, Real Talk and “Real Life” hashtags are so common right now, I hate to even use the words. I don’t want to say “I’ll just be honest here.” But, I’m going to be transparent, because while I blog for an audience that I hope is inspired and encouraged by my photos and writings, I also blog to log my own progress. So, being that it’s the end of 2014, I’m logging my progress on this year via My Path posts.

My path is different than many other creatives. Being a part of the Making Things Happen community is a beautiful thing, but I often feel like I’m not accomplishing as much as the others are, or that I’ll never fulfill my dream. But it’s inthose moments that I have to remember that my path is different. My path is not the same, and my path is, most of all, my own. At the MTH Conference in LA in 2013, I expressed my dreams of financial consulting for churches and to see religious not for profits thrive, and during the networking at the end of the day someone commented “so, why are you here? I thought this was for creatives, and your goal doesn’t seem to fit.” 

My first emotion was anger. 
My second was incredulity. 
And the third (which is the one I thankfully acted upon) was understanding. 

First, because I have financial pursuits in mind does not make me a non-creative. (Have you ever tried to create a budget? I rest my case.) Secondly, I am not just interested in financial pursuits. I’m a part-time photographer, I absolutely love hand-lettering and DIY projects that include wood work, wood-burning and also graphic design, blogging and online blog design and branding. I'm an entrepreneur, and a self-starting planner. All of those things combined create who I am, not just the financial and not just the creative. I understand that not everyone understands that. But, her reaction definitely shaped one of the three feelings I left MTH with.

Those feelings were enthusiasm, understanding and passion.

 I left with an encouraged enthusiasm for my calling. I felt like the day had cemented my direction and I knew what I wanted. How would I get there? That was to be determined.

I left with an understanding that my path would be different than those around me. I was not a full-time creative, full-time blogger (or to be quite honest, a full-time anything at the moment). I left with the understanding that my path is not less significant because it differs from others in my community. 

Finally, I left with a passion for others. I left with a passion to help others succeed, financially and creatively. I left with a passion to never, NEVER question someone’s reason for being at any location for any reason. I left with a passion to treat people how I would want to be treated. I left with a passion to empower others.

Making Things Happen defies explanation. It was emotionally and physically exhausting and draining, and I still get tingly thinking about it. It was a day with women who I shared insecurities with, but also shared strengths. Some of them are connections I have kept, but mostly? I’ve kept the feeling of that day. My path is important. I am making things happen.

I'm rehashing all of this now because as I've reflected over 2014, I'm beginning to understand that MTH 2012 had a huge impact in shaping me. It has a continued impact because of the MTH community. I absolutely cannot wait to take part in another year's conference - and it will happen one day. But, until then, I still participate in the community and grow in the knowledge and understanding of a grace-filled path. A path laid out by God, and how my actions fit into that path. 2015 will be a different year for me, in many ways, and this post? This little part of me that started two years ago? It's a big chunk of 2014 and what I learned. 

Have you ever felt inferior to someone else? Stop and take a moment to understand why you’re feeling that way. Is it their treatment of you or is it that you haven’t solidified your path? When you determine your path, no one can make you feel inferior. Your path is just as important as the CEO of a Fortune 500. Because it is yours. No one can take that away from you, except you. Choose to understand yourself and move forward. Own your path. Own your strengths and your weaknesses. KNOW THYSELF. And be fulfilled in the path God has placed you on. 

22 December 2014

Merry Monday

(via pinterest)
As things are shaping up for the New Year--plans, elimination of current duties, thoughts of purging out calendars and closets--this quote seemed fitting. 

Succeed on Purpose

It's the season of Christmas, but also the season of renewed Purpose for all the right reasons! 

05 December 2014

Fancy Friday: Pinterest Favorites

Ooh hey! We survived Black Friday folks! All those sales (are they really worth getting trampled over?), new gadgets and consumerism galore. Ugh. I recently went on a Pinterest spree and I realized something: how many times do we get on Pinterest and just pin aimlessly? Do we even enjoy it? Do the people we follow just mirror each other or do they actually post original content? 

I love Pinterest, there's just no denying it. However, I'm working on posting more of my own photos on my blog, and therefore putting "original" content on Pinterest as well. But, because I know that I'm not the only individual in the world, I love to pin things from other people as well. I love to pin off my Feedly account. I love pinning off my favorite news blogs, lifestyle and fashion ideas too. And, more than that? I love following someone with unique content on Pinterest - a combination of articles, photos and design elements are my favorite elements in finding a new pinner. 

I've collected a few of my most recent favorites. I used to operate on the idea that "more is more" and wouldn't follow people if they didn't have more than say 5,000 pins. How wrong I was! Some of my favorite feeds are those which have a less is more approach and carefully curate their boards. I've included a few recent favorites, with the link to their pin, board and the original content all included (sourcing is a pet peeve). 

Do you have any Pinterest favorites you'd like to pass on? Share the inspiration! 

04 December 2014

A Satisfied Heart

Hello long lost friends! Just a quick note to pop over and let you know I'm posting over on She's Intentional  on three tips for a satisfied heart during the holidays!

Praying your holidays are blessed so far, and that you are well on your way to a peaceful season!


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