DAY T W E N T Y- T H R E E

I love birthdays.

I love celebrating others, I enjoy thinking about gifts that don’t just fill the space for gift giving but gifts that remind people “Hey– I thought about you specifically you for this moment right now.” 

I am a huge words of affirmation person both giving and receiving. However when receiving I reciprocate written versus verbal. Verbal affirmation makes me ALL KINDS OF UNCOMFORTABLE. I still don’t know how to take a compliment, this at first streamed from very deep insecurities. Now they are not so deep but still very present however verbal affirmation still makes me nervous and I automatically turn it onto the other person.

I think the psychology fan in me loves the idea of love languages.

I am a firm believer that they help us understand one another better and also gives us the space to know people even deeper.

WORDS OF AFFIRMATION

ACTS OF SERVICE

RECEIEVING GIFTS

QUALITY TIME

PHYSICAL TOUCH

These love languages are usually used in regards to marriage HOWEVER, I think that these could play a huge part in everyday friendships, work environments and basically any interaction with human beings. I ask pretty much all of my friends what their love language is because I desire to know them deeper, what is it that I can do to where they feel most loved? I remember having this conversation with my housemates about a year ago and understanding love languages became crucial in one of the relationships because for one girl, giving gifts was the way her family dealt with conflict. Instead of sitting and talking about it, a gift would just pop up somewhere and that was the end of it, so she became used to doing that when they would get into arguments or tidbits. However for the other girl in the relationship she grew up in a house where gifts weren’t really intention but just stuff and the “stuff” took away from connection, from actual relationship.

You can imagine how they had to talk that one out because each person interpreted the “gifts” in different ways.

Knowing and understanding the people around you can be complicated. Relationships to any extent take A LOT of work. Whatever we can do to better understand the other in the midst of the complication and difficulty, will allow healthier, rooted and blossoming relationships.

With love languages, there isn’t necessarily you have some and you don’t have the others. With these specific love languages there is more of an order of the 5 for each individual person than there is the presence or absence. For me, my order is as follows:

  1. (Written) Words of affirmation (I know….so complicated, just like my starbucks orders)
  2. Quality Time
  3. Acts of Service
  4. Receiving Gifts
  5. Physical Touch

This is not to say that I don’t appreciate verbal words of affirmation but as I mentioned before, it makes me all kinds of squirm-ish. And this is also not saying that I absolutely hate to be touched because I’m such a hugger and a good one BUT when it comes to how I best receive love its not on the top of my list.

NOTE: There is a difference between these love languages in regards to receiving and giving.

I believe that if you are aware of how someone else best receives love, you are able to deliver that despite where the language may be placed in your own list. I knew that in a relationship that his top love language was quality time and though that was not my personal first choice I had to learn how to adjust and put that knowledge into action with my interactions with him. It is an opportunity not only to stretch yourself but also put yourselves in the shoes of someone else for a moment. How does this person need to be loved in this moment right now?

I think that these five little tokens can be beautiful additions to not only knowing but truly understanding and loving those around us.

Day T W E N T Y – T W O

I want to expand the way I write/ what I write about. I hope to be insightful, informative and encouraging in many different outlets. I struggled with what to write for today, I could journal entry approach which I have been doing, I could take a topic and start writing off of that. I considered starting a conversation about Raven-Symone and her comment but you can do that on your own. Instead, I will make a list of books (that I can write in 30 minutes )I think you should read.

  • A Severe Mercy

    By, Sheldon Vanauken

    WARNING: THIS. BOOK. WRECKS. YOU.  From the inside out. it changes your view of God, religion as a whole, relationships, love, jealousy and overall life in general. It is a TRUE story of a couple who becomes friends with C.S Lewis and exchange letters with him over a time span of years and find God through the encounter. Their relationship is a beautiful depiction of selfless love and brutal honesty. This book does not shy away from vulnerability or from raw and real truth. Also their encounters with C.S Lewis gives you such a tangible view of him, you would believe that you were friends with him too by the end of it.

    . The Heart of a Woman

By, Maya Angelou

You admire Maya from the distance, you fall in love with her poetic words but this book is a glimpse at her life, the reason and backbone of all the poems that she created. I love reading books that allow you to see people that are held on this pedestal on a real, fallible human level. You’re reminded that it took a lot for them to get to where they are and it elicits even a deeper respect for them. I found myself giggling at how sassy she was, in awe of her boldness and captivated by the way she wrestled with her ability to connect with the maternal part of her and love her son.

3. Fat Pig

By, Neil LaBute

I am a play junkie. I like to buy the short little books and read through them, imagine myself as the characters and dissect the meaning of lines. This about eighty page play is the story of a couple who wrestles with the appearance of themselves and each other. I had the honor of playing the character Helen who is a heftier woman dating Tom who is tall, good-looking and “fit.” The story is essentially the “I’ll never be that girl story” and it resonates with basically every woman because we’ve all felt that way at some point and time. This one hurts but the text is SO good. If you’re into plays —read it.

4. If You Find this Letter

By, Hannah Brencher

I mean duh. Read this post and you’ll know why.

But seriously, just read it, not the post. The book, it’s beautiful, she’s beautiful.

5. Is Everyone Hanging out Without me?

By, Mindy Kaling

IT’S SO FUNNY. I have never laughed out-loud at a book before. It was the book that my friend Kayla and I read to each other while sitting on dryers in a laundromat. It’s HILARIOUS, insightful, encouraging and basically makes you want to have Mindy as a friend so you can text her quotes that you loved to her as if she wasn’t the one who wrote the book in the first place. Not only is it funny but the way she incorporates truth and sort of allows you to see the insides and outsides of what she  does and you realize she’s a freaking boss as well.

6. Rising Strong

by, Brene’ Brown

I fell in love with this brilliant woman after watching her TED TALK awhile ago. Now my small group is reading this book and it’s amazing. Her incorporation of research, education and life all wrapped in one is so refreshing. She makes me want to go back to school and learn so much more. She also makes me want to have coffee with her for two days in a row and take copious amount of notes— I choose the latter option.

 

Thank you.

For tuning into lists and explanations in 30 minutes with Arielle.

See you next time folks.

Day T W E N T Y O N E

As the conference today came to a close, I was, am physically and emotionally exhausted in the best possible way. Performing has this pre adrenaline but once I’m off the stage it all comes flooding down and the humanness comes out full force. I shake uncontrollably and usually sit on the floor somewhere to regain my sense of stability. And then, some of the leaders went to the alter and prayed over some of the girls. It’s one of my favorite moments, where they’re bold and trying to step out despite the encouragement of their youth leader or hesitance of their peers. The first girl I prayed for, her name was Faith and I asked Faith what her prayer request was and she said that God would forgive her sins and in my head I’m thinking like what? steal candy from the store and let your mom think she bought it by putting it in the grocery bag? Basically her heart, her approach was so pure I immediately told her, Oh baby girl! He already has. And then prayed that she would be reminded of that truth and that she would continue to be so bold as she was in that moment but in the rest of her life.

When it was all said and done, I wiped away a lot of tears, put on my jean jacket to cover the goosebumps and Karen and I came back to the hotel and crashed for an hour or so before heading out to dinner. After dinner, we went to downtown carlsbad and walked down to the beach.

The ocean, has always been my immediate space of comfort and healing. It is my tangible space.

It is my space where God feels tangible and life feels tangible and everything that seemed overwhelming comes across so small and mediocre in comparison to the waves. However when we walked down to the shore, the stair cases were covered in water. The waves were so big, so strong that they were covering the part of the beach that during the day was “accessible.”

However I was really determined and though one staircase was a full puddle at the bottom, we walked through some houses and restaurants to access the other staircase. Again, it was filled with water. Karen automatically said NAH but everything in me wanted to get to the shore so I tried to figure out how deep the puddle was and of course the dramatics in both of us made it seem really deep. So with are attempts, we were satisfied enough to head back to the car that was until a man came and casually sauntered through the puddle, he told us it was only a few inches deep and I walked him walk through where there once was stairs and a path way to the shore now just covered in water. After seeing his example and that he didn’t drown, I immediately followed after him.

Sometimes, I get these really bold spurts. I’m not sure where they come from but when they show up —they know how to make things happen.

Now on the other side of the shore, I watched as the massive waves engulfed the sand.

They were the kind of ways that remind you how small you are.

And not in a you’re insignificant kind of way either. Just small as in look how fragile you can be, look how big the God you serve must be if those waves could be shaped and molded by his very hands. I sat there and thought about how I almost didn’t want to cross over to the shore. I almost was too terrified to dip my feet in the little ambiguous puddle and was going to be satisfied from watching the wondrous waves from the distance. My heart was still slightly freaking out at the “risk” of it all. Not knowing if something would grab my feet or if the depth of it was actually less than shallow than was assumed. But I had did it.

Isn’t that how the unknown works sometimes? It’s terrifying oh my it’s so so scary. But only because we don’t know what’s on the other side. In fact, we don’t even know what will happen after the first step right? And you know those people who say things they remind us that the first step is always the scariest. The first step is always the hardest one—because we have so many other narratives in our heads that are pulling us backwards and not forwards.

The unknown is exactly that BUT only unknown to us. Only unknown to the human eye, only unknown because we can’t see that far.

We have no idea what’s on the other side of the shore.

We have no idea how massive and glorious the waves will be but you know what we do know? We know that it’s not in vain. We know that eventually we have to cross. We know that the unknown is only terrifying until you finally make that first step and then you’re in the midst of the unknown and you see the gifts within it, then you get comfortable and THEN there’s a whole different “unknown” to embark on after that.

The unknown is a tool to keep us moving forward and reminded that a “comfortable” life is a stagnant life.

Yeah.

A comfortable life is a stagnant life. Because once we’re comfortable we slip into that and don’t think it necessary to get out of our yoga pants and put on real clothes. We think it’s okay here, I’m okay here. But nah bruh, you’re actually not, You stink and you need to get up and out. Staying in  comfortable is kind of boring anyway and you’re much too complex for comfortable.

The ocean is the most cliche illustration for unknown, depth and awe BECAUSE IT FREAKING IS  OKAY? It’s that and so much more. The ocean is my reminder that God is in control and I am not. It is every ounce of tranquility and hope all swelled up into foam and roaring waves. The ocean reminds us that yes, the unknown is terrifying, it seems bigger than us, it seems unpredictable and ambiguous and yet all at once absolutely beautiful and worth it. It’s good for us, the unknown, because it scares the comfortable out of us and straight onto the shore.

 (mm that was kinda  good. Someone tweet that)

Day Twenty- yay!

It’s amazing how much your perspective, mood and basically entire day can be affected when you are rested.

This morning, I slept in until 10 and didn’t get out of bed until 10:30. To say that this was necessary is an understatement. In the past two weeks I have worked all three of my jobs, performed at a conference and ran two workshops, performed again and wrote and recorded a voiceover for a video. Now I am up rehearsing for another conference tomorrow.

This hotel bed is much more comfortable than my twin bed at home and Karen is next to me because I realize I’m not ready to travel to conferences alone. Also—HOLY CRAP I’M TRAVELING. I’m traveling to do poetry. I’m traveling to speak and this morning as I was packing my bags and cleaning our Dandelion Den (that’s the name my housemates and I gave to our abode) I was overwhelmed with the reality that I am tangibly living my dreams. It snuck up on me. God just slowly (well honestly pretty rapidly) placed me on this path and I remember the first time I ever did poetry and I left the stage in tears and found myself praying Lord, if it be your will. I would do this for the rest of my life if I could.

I say this a lot because I’m continually baffled at what my “reality” is now. I ran from this. oh I ran so hard from creating, from poetry, from being on stage. How could I be creative and still christian? How could I write poetry that wasn’t plastered with a message that turned people away from the one who loves them the most? I believe that the Gospel is sneaky. It slips itself in at the moments you least expects it AND BLOWS YOUR MIND. I didn’t want to be a “Christian” poet. Yes, I wanted to exude the gospel in both actions and words. Yes, I wanted to convey messages that wasn’t always the easiest pill for people to swallow. No, I’m not doing this to be “liked” or to receive “fame.” I’m doing this because 1. this is not my gift to have, so any chance I’m given to be able to give it back, I’m going to take it 2. People need to hear that they’re loved. They need to hear about the man who decided that He would rather die than stop loving them 3. Words are important, they are beautiful and they have a depth to them that I believe surpasses our human understanding because they connect us to something, someone beyond us.

I write poetry because I want to leave love letters to the world,

letters that you find underneath the rubble when this place falls apart before our very eyes. Letters tucked into the places you used to frequent because they felt like home. 

I write poetry because it’s healing and every spill of a poem is every bit of safe haven and sanctuary.

I write poetry because I believe open mics are the churches people don’t feel as if they have be anyone other than who they were created to be.

 

Tomorrow, the conference I am attending is Anchored in Love and in my second piece of the day I recite Romans 8:38-39.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

We don’t give Jesus the credit that he deserves. sometimes the extent of our doubts is so much greater than the extent of our faith and when that happens we limit ourselves from seeing what he is capable of doing. HE LOVES YOU. The. end. And no mistake, no sin, no one or anything can keep you from that. Tomorrow, I get to share that with a group of young women.

Conferences are one of my favorite spaces because I essentially get the chance to write a love letter poem to girls I don’t know and maybe won’t know when I leave that place. As I sit and rehearse my poems, I am somehow emotionally connected to every single one of the ladies at the conference tomorrow. I am a big feeler, I carry a lot of emotions that aren’t mine, I feel deeply and without any apology— this allows me to somehow connect to strangers in the deepest way. This is exhausting most times but it’s also extremely rewarding. How cool is it to be a part of something awesome? When the work is good and the results are awe-inspiring it is mind blowing to think — wait, you want to use ME?! And we’ll come back with every excuse in the book why we wouldn’t be the best option, why we don’t “fit the part.” He says, screw the part! I CREATED YOU FOR THIS. I built you, shaped you, lead you to this moment right here.

I’m using a lot of capital letters in this post because of how stinkin pumped I am when I think about all this. He doesn’t want to type-cast you. He could care less if you think you’re “right” for this. Right and wrong are subjective when the God of this universe says hey, I would like you to be a part of this. You say YES, where do I sign up? In fact, just put my name down. Where do I go? What do I do? Who do you need me to love and how?

He told me to take the pages, take the numerous journals that I had, let him breathe life into them and give them to people. If you were to tell me this about three years ago I would have laughed in your face. I would have given you all my logical and reasonable answers and left it there. I’m so glad he didn’t let me have my way.

I am blessed to be in this moment right now.

I needed to be reminded of how blessed this is, how blessed I am.

I love when people tell me that my story is encouraging to watch because I am living out my purpose. It is a humbling reminder that it is hard to get to this place and even when you do “get to this place”, it’s still freaking hard! “When you’re on your path, the universe will conspire to help you.” That’s an excerpt from Brene Brown’s book, Rising Strong, referencing the Alchemist. I would go even further and say that when you’re on your path— nothing can stop you and God will continue to open doors left and right because AH, you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.

So,

what’s that thing that scares the mess out of you?

You know that dream that keeps you up at night. The one that distracts you while you try to drown it out with other tasks you think you’re supposed to be doing. It’s terrifying but just try it out, truly sit with what it would take to make it happen and do it. If it backfires, you won’t be stuck with the weight of never having done it, only with the fuel to to go even further and try something new.

Day Nineteen– Crockpot || 30days30minutes

Somedays, I approach these posts knowing exactly what to say and how to say it.

Other days, like today. I have a handful of topics I could spill about on these posts that I am worried are more journal entries than anything else. But someone came up to me about a week ago —(*starts singing* about a week ago…week ago)  and she told me that she was thankful for these posts. Told me to keep going because I was doing good work.

I’m doing good work. I’m doing good work. I’m doing good work.

This is what I have to remind myself after ten hours of sorting through clothes and nannying. I find myself having to choke back tears of doing what I need to do to get back– but who I am to feel privileged in this? I really really try not to compare my story to others —BUT– so many people are out there hustling just to provide for their families, just to make ends meet and I’m complaining because I have to work with a rad couple and take a little girl to ballet class. But I can’t lie and say I don’t feel trapped- I don’t feel like I am hanging on the edge of my purpose, one foot doing the dang thing and the other foot just trying to make sure I can pay rent and a car not.

I’m tired.

I never want that to be my response to someone who asks me how am I doing, I don’t want to say busy, or tired or use “just livin the dream”when all that really means is actually, I’m LIVING VERY VERY FAR FROM THE DREAM– I’M JUST TRYING TO GET A VACATION SPOT THERE!

We hustle.

We hustle fast and we hustle with every bit of us. We run fast and drive ourselves into the ground.

I have a hard time believing that God can actually provide, that God’s “got this” without my hustle. I have a hard time believing that he just wants me to sit back and let him do his thing without me. it’s silly, maybe but sometimes I really struggle with finding his tangible provision as something completely unrelated to my actions. But my hustle has nothing to do with his provision who knows if my “hustle” produces anything but pure exhaustion and I’m just under the impression that I’m actually doing something.

My roommate asked me last night, if I knew when I need to say no to things and when i need to say yes.

The answer is no, absolutely not. I have no idea how to do this AT ALL until I crash and have nothing to give and then I have to take back all my yes that I just threw out like freaking candy to anyone who asked. I say yes and somehow everything falls into place around the same time and I’m running around trying to “figure it out” like a crazy person. I am trying really trying to learn “no” without feeling like I owed someone something or feel so bad like really really bad because I couldn’t do it. I carry “no” like burdens. My mind associates yes with strength and no with, oh you can’t handle it? Lies, all lies of course. So as I transition into this next season of life, coming from the middle of the tornado kind of season, I’m am trying to re-learn the art of no, the acceptance of no so please feel free to keep me accountable on that! (I might regret this later and come back and delete it—but for now I mean it).

I feel like this post is a crock pot post.

I am saying lots of different, random things but I hope at least they come together somehow and taste good.

Yesterday, at the end of the event Elizabeth passed out some of her first bracelets that she made. Each bracelet says something different and before receiving them she told us that she believes strongly whatever phrase you get is what you’re supposed to have. So everyone starts getting their bracelets, some of them say “be strong”, “courageous” , or “freedom”, you know those words where you constantly reflect on and attempt to understand where their place is for your present moment. I get my bracelet and it says, “ h a v e  f  u n”.

h a v e f u n.

We’re all walking around sharing our bracelet words and I read mine with a slightly bitter and disappointed voice and everyone else’s reaction is more like “Yeah…that’s a good one for you!” or “Yup! That’s accurate, you need that!” WOAH WOAH WOAH in my head i’m thinking what?! I AM LOADS OF “FUN” –I do things….Fun things. And in the midst of my slightly irrational defensiveness my friend Lisa says, “maybe try thinking about it as having fun as Arielle. Not as Arielle the nanny or the worker, or the do-er just Arielle.”

I sat with that all day today. How does Arielle have fun? And I realized how hard it was to dissociate myself from what I do. Anyone else feel that way? Our defining factors of who we are are completely centered around what we do and that becomes our understanding of who we are.

How does Arielle have fun? Outside of coming home, letting the introvert in me hang out and catch up on things I didn’t accomplish that day. Fun to me is just being able to sit down and not have to move for more than 20minutes. But no no-how does Arielle have fun? I haven’t quite figured that out yet but I’m sure I’ll come back to this space and let you know when I do.

Your turn!

Who are you outside of what you do? How do you think you“have fun” ? What kind of exploring do you need to do in order to explore what that looks like? It’ll be a neat little journey trying to figure out what that entails. Let me know what you’ve discovered!

I hope the crock pot post didn’t freak ya’ll out too much.

Thanks for sticking around, I appreciate you.

Day Eighteen || 30days, 30minutes

In my Undergraduate, I studied Psychology. There was something about the human mind that fascinated me. Why do we do the things that we do? How do we define truth and where does that stream from? What does birth order have to do with our personalities?

I am constantly processing through a lot, all the time. I internally and externally ask a lot of questions. I analyze every concept I can get my hands on and I am constantly wanting to understand deeper. I am intrigued with discovering heartbeat and the root of people, places and things. I knew midway that I wasn’t going to pursue Psychology on the graduate level, I didn’t really have a desire to be a doctor or to have a practice, I just wanted to know how to love people. I quickly learned that Psychology was about more than diagnosing yourself or others. It was the ability to grasp a deeper, wider and more universal approach at understanding other human beings. I figured, that in whatever I did– I would always be around people and psychology would allow me to understand people better– thus hopefully knowing how to better love them.

My favorite class was a summer class taught by Professor Becky Murdock called Psych of the Exceptional Child. The whole focus of the class was geared towards the various mental disorders that children can have, their causes and treatments. This class wrecked me. I cried A LOT and every child I told myself I would adopt and keep them in this cute little house tucked away surrounded by willow trees so they could just be. (I realize how creepy that could have sounded but I meant it in the most sincere, nurturing kind of way) Shortly after this class, I started working with a beautiful little girl who is on the autism spectrum. Her name is Naiya, I’ve mentioned her before on my blog a few times. She is a precious human who reminds me to take everything in, every touch and every flutter of eye contact. She has taught me that it’s okay to know what you want and not know how to express it, she also reminds me that no matter what goes on in our own heads– we all have a deep desire to be known, seen and loved.

I’m not sure if you know this,

but currently we are smack dab in the middle of mental health awareness week.

Did you know that about 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder?

Did you know that an estimated 16 million american adults (nearly 7% of the population) had at least one major depressive episode in the past year?

These are barely scraping the surface of all that mental health awareness focuses on. However these are the ones I know about– these are some of the stories I can tell but can you imagine how many stories are out there not being told? Because when you are suffering from something that cripples your mind and sometimes hinders your ability to function to your full potential — the immediate response is to recluse. No one wants to see when you’re not put together, when you’re not whole and you’re walking around with all your pieces. No one is going to understand, these are the lies that bombard thousands of individuals everyday.

The biggest power mental illness can have is the power of silence.

The power over convincing those suffering with them that there’s no need to share but there is.

Tonight, I had the incredible honor of performing for an event for an organization called Link of Hearts, a jewelry company focused on, RAISING AWARENESS FOR DEPRESSION & SPREADING HOPE ONE GIFT AT A TIME.” The owner and founder, Elizabeth shares her own story about her walk and battle with depression here. A few months ago, Elizabeth asked me to write a piece for her kickstarter video raising awareness for those suffering with depression. I couldn’t do this project alone and asked my friend Sophia to write it with me. She agreed and then tonight we performed this piece;  

Darkness brings a lens that magnifies

the small evils that

have made nests inside my instability.

The micro fibers of their homes

Are too tangled to

Free myself from the

Residency they’ve claimed.

When horizontal

It all grows quicker,

it swells faster.

Grip hands to sides and cling to

Repetitive hopes that

Sun comes again and

Your skin and bones will wake again.

This can’t be living.

I never thought I would have to remind you

What living feels like — how to be the one to sing away the darkness

But I promise to your bedside lullaby

reassuring you that this night will pass

I promise to be the one who lies next to you

when you’re convinced everything in this world is against you

you are more skyscraper than abandoned building

rest, please rest

but rest means

Sleeping and sleeping

Means peace and

Peace means quiet,

Well it all must be

Wrong then because

Sleep is attempt

After tired attempt at

Finding reconciled

Ignorance to your

Too-filled mind at

A chance to focus

On your breath

In your lungs to

Carry you into the next day.

I will carry you into the next day

Remind you of your strength in the moments you are weak

And to be the one who sews your cape when it’s tattered

Hold the mirror to your face when you’ve lost sight of your identity

Is this when I have to face myself?

you are beautiful.

The time when the outside

stops growing because there

is no sun right now,

you are good enough.

but this thing inside me has proven to be

nocturnal because

when sun sets,

roots grow.

You are not falling apart.

When the outside does not have

chance at convincing

me of ignoring myself again,

is this when i have to face myself?

You are beautiful.

Pain searing through her bones

And taunting insomnia

aching more than just in your body

Sadness kissing her temples each night

fighting battles I always figured she had already won

I cannot pretend to understand

I cannot pretend to know how to hold you

I just know that I must

Let the dark be your space for

feeling fully.

Let your sadness swell into what

is not seen.

Let your chaos absorb what

is not seen.

this is only one experience untold

of the countless men and women

with this illness, suffering in silence

We hope that this will be their gateway–

you do not have to do this alone,

you no longer have to be silent

You deserve to be seen,

To be known, to be heard

every shaky, uncertain

roaring and unwavering voice

it’s time to out come out of hiding

you’re safe here

you’re safe here

you are safe here

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I don’t believe that any story should go untold. I don’t believe than any voice should be unheard. I do not believe that giving the power of silence over to these mental illnesses will make them go away. They’re not dramatic scenes in movies, these are the stories of real people all around you. So this week, I would challenge you to learn something new that you haven’t known before about mental health and the issues surrounding it.

Here are a few of my favorite resources for hope, encouragement, knowledge and support;

https://twloha.com

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml

you are seen. you are known. you are heard.

Day Seventeen||30days30minutes

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Up until last night, I didn’t know that tea boxes came with instructions.

I didn’t know that for your cup of tea to be full of flavor and goodness you have to steep the bag in hot water for 4-6 minutes. I pulled out cups for my housemate and I then she went to the cupboard and pulled out the box and carefully read the instructions. Tonight, I made another cup of tea for myself and read the instructions on the box for directions to a really good cup of tea. All this time, I’ve just been making tea pretty haphazardly not with ease, intention or diligence at all. I did not realize that there was an art to tea making.

Don’t we kind of do this with a lot in our own lives?

We get into a repetitive mundane habits, we rush decisions or miss out on really good steeped moments because we don’t want to wait for them to be fully what they can be.  The water has to boil, the tea bag and the water have to learn how to let the other one in a little bit in order to create something really good (Oo that was deep and definitely a good relationship connection, I’ll save that for later expanding).

Right after graduation, I got the idea to start a weekly email group. I currently get Hannah Brencher Monday email and that has always been a huge inspiration to me. I fought with attempting to replicate the idea because it seemed unoriginal but the idea kept me up one night and so I sat on my phone designing/ thinking of different names I could call it. I thought of a lot of terms that was geared towards a mainly woman focus because that’s my go-to comfort zone and where I feel I can share the most experience but then Hearts of Gold came to mind. That could easily be taken really female gender friendly but in my first email I explained why I chose the name, Hearts of Gold;

Why gold? Why not hearts of silver, titanium or some other type of chemical element?

I asked myself this same question on the night that this little email group started stirring in my soul. I had other names of course for instance, “The Sunflower Brigade” almost won because well I’m obsessed with sunflowers but for some reason gold kept coming right back to me. So then I did some research on gold not the color but the chemical element itself. According to good ol’ Wikipedia, Gold in its purest form “is a bright, slightly reddish yellow, dense, soft, malleable and ductile metal.” A Ductile metal means that when the metal is under stress it shapes and molds into something different BUT it does not break or crack.

Malleable means that something can be hammered or shaped completely out of its original form but it does not break. Instead, it turns into something different but with the same capacity of strength and simultaneously manages to remain in its purest form. I know you weren’t expecting to get a science lesson when you signed up for these emails but I figured what better way to start this journey off then by explaining the name that ties it all together.

Here’s the beautiful application that I see with this… with us, is that our hearts go through a lot, they are some strong mother suckers because we are reckless individuals who say hurtful words and get hurt in return. We sometimes forget how fragile yet how strong and malleable our hearts are. I chose Hearts of Gold because God is constantly shaping, molding, forming us under stress, challenges and all that life throws at us so that we can become our purest and most beautiful self. The discomfort that comes with being hammered and shaped is no comparison to the final result of who we will become because of his handiwork in and through our lives. And when it is “all said and done” after the tension, the stress, the shaping and molding our hearts don’t really break, WE don’t break, instead we realize that we are capable of so much because he says that we are and allows us to be.

Two weeks ago, I sent out a Wednesday email admitting that I wasn’t focusing or spending the time I would like to spend on these weekly emails. I was throwing them together with whatever came to mind — I felt frazzled and disoriented and overwhelmed. So I put the emails on a short hiatus, I got notification after sending the email that a few people unsubscribed from the list — I can’t lie and say that this didn’t sting a little bit. I realize that it’s hard for people to stick around when we admit that we are broken and empty handed. We prefer to see people put together with a plastered on smile whether that was their reality or not. But i will be the first to admit when I’m a hott mess (and not the attractive kind) because I never want transparency to be something I consider a weakness or become a downfall.

Now back to the tea–

The steeping of tea is worth the time, worth the patience because honestly good things do take time. They take work, they take diligence and a lot of love. I needed to take the hiatus from my emails in order to realize how important they are to me, in order to feel re-fueled and encouraged and ready to spill my heart out to a group of people who signed up.

I want these emails and everything that I write and even everything I do to be the art and process of steeping tea.

I want to pour the hot water, add the tea bag and sit and let the goodness unfold without rushing or skipping a step. You don’t get the full result when you skip a step, I wasn’t necessarily the savviest student in science class but I did get a B+ in High school chemistry and I’m pretty sure I remembered that when you go outside of the instructions and guidelines given for an experiment you will either 1. get an explosion or 2. not have any response or result at all. Good things take time, so sit back, light a candle and read a book while you wait. Then grab  your favorite mug, add your dash of honey and or steamed milk and enjoy the goodness!

It’ll be worth it, it’ll be worth the wait.

Day Sixteen || 30days30minutes

Dear College Students.

Hey, take a breath.

I know you’re probably freaking out right now because you probably started scrolling the interweb during your allotted procrastination time and it’s past the time you had initially planned. It’s okay, take a breath.

I’ve encountered a few of you the past couple days and your eyes are tired (i don’t mean that offensively I mean you genuinely probably haven’t slept in days and I can tell –hold your fire, you’re loved still, dark eyes and all). I know that your diet has consisted of more coffee and “snacks” than anything of substance. Come over, I’ll make you dinner…no seriously. Shoot me a text, email Fb message, DM and we’ll make a date. I’ll make you dinner with vegetables that didn’t come from a can.

The majority of you are frantic, stressed and stretched much too thin. Part of this is because well it’s what you signed up for when you entered into college and secondly, you’ve said yes to more than your hands can hold. Your cart is full, so is your schedule and also your entire day. You are wondering why the weekend feels more like a two hour nap than two full days and how the days manage to fly by so fast and you’re still catching up from your to-do list weeks ago. I talked with one dear friend and current student and she told me that she is having to say “No” to somethings and remind herself that her sanity and health is important.

YOUR SANITY & HEALTH IS IMPORTANT.

The assignments inevitably always get done, i’m not sure how. Sometimes it takes a few all nighters and then you have to remember to balance that with taking your overly caffeinated and fried brain TO BED. I honestly can’t remember the tests I took (passed and sometimes didn’t pass), I don’t remembers the papers I sometimes threw together, I don’t remember the amount of stress I put on myself. I do remember the moments where I felt the most weak and broken and had to ask for help. I do remember almost every coffee conversation on the main part of campus, I do remember work shifts and told that I was a “coffee goddess” which is just what really tired and grateful for good cups of coffee college students tell you in the middle of finals week. I do remember the moments where one of my resident asked me “How do you find worth in yourself” and I cried and told her I was still trying to figure that out myself.

You see the learning, is more than just in the classroom. The learning begins before you even step foot in a classroom and it keeps going once you leave. The learning is in your dorm room, it’s outside on your lawn past midnight because something feels heavy and you don’t know how to break the tension.

You are there to be scholars.

Scholars of life, scholars of yourself, scholars of people and issues that matter.

You are there to find out even more so about what you are passionate about, why you are passionate about it and what you’re going to tangibly do to make it possible.

You’re there to become skillful in your craft, whether that be teaching, creating, doing, whatever it is. The grades matter but then they also don’t matter– whoops, yeah I said that. The grades matter but they also don’t and I know that’s an oxymoron and i know that I wish I would have gotten some better grades in a class just to feel good about myself. But the grades aren’t worth your health. The grades aren’t worth your well-being. They are building blocks, not the ladder itself.

Dear College students,

It’s okay if you don’t date in college. It’s okay if you don’t find “your one” in college — I sure didn’t and I am so grateful because I didn’t even know myself enough let alone to get to know someone else too.

So DTR in the garden even though it won’t solve anything, let them serenade you outside of your campus housing door (before curfew hours of course, for all you private Christian schoolers.

Drink the whole pot of coffee in one day and then spend the next day drinking water before you pass out of dehydration and wonder why you keep getting headaches.

Go see a counselor because this is just beginning of the weirdest and yet most beautifully ravishing part of your story.

Know who your home team is, not the ones who you always cross paths with and say, “OH MY GOSH Hiiiiii, LET’S GO GET COFFEE!” and never do. Know who the people are that you can go to and they will not shy away from giving you truth, or just listening or knowing the moment when you come into the room that you just need the lights turned off and to be left alone. Find the people who will be there when the rubber hits the road because it most definitely will hit the road.

Don’t be afraid to actually say when you’re not good, don’t be so inclined to fall into the perfect march of I’m doing great when you’re really not. Be willing to admit that to others so you know when to believe it yourself.

Dear college students,

this time goes by really fast and you won’t be able to get it back.

So take it all in, love people well and learn what it means to love yourself just as well.

Do things you would never do and write papers that make you excited to learn.

Step outside your comfort zone, it’s nerve wracking but I promise it’s really fun there.

Day Fifteen || 30days30minutes

I’m entering into another year of life and that always makes you all reflective right? Tonight, I am overwhelmed with the gratitude of the people that God has plopped into my life at thee most perfect times. I have been blessed with overall really awesome people in my life but even more so really awesome mentors and older people who it is so easy to look up to. I have had people who have LITERALLY let me cry on their shoulders when I found out I wasn’t going to graduate “on time”, or over coffee when I had to admit that I wasn’t coping in healthy ways.  People who have told me about the truth of who I am and helped me heal from heartbreaks in the front seat of their cars.  People who have raced me to hospitals at midnight and cut tension of silence when both life and death are present in one place with truth that has struck me to do this day, “You know… you don’t have to be strong right now.” People who have encouraged, seen, heard me and loved me still. 

Like most twenty-year olds just barely comin’ in kicking to this strange, big world — finances. Are like not really a thing. Unless that’s just me… Trying to “budget” just looks like how can I get through this month, pay everything and still manage to eat? To say that I have stretched what I have been given is a very big understatement. My mom says that we live a life a manna, always just enough, not any more, not any less and it comes exactly when you need it. How I’ve managed this far honestly BAFFLES me — but ah yes, CAN’T HE DO IT?!

This week, I had to admit that I wasn’t doing well– that I needed time and had to ask for grace I didn’t think I deserved. I tried to pay my utilities and then had to tell my “landlord” aka a really awesome human that I had to cash a check first but would send it after. “Isn’t being an adult great?” “No.” I said, “it’s the absolute worst.” THEN he went and laid on the wisdom real THICK (you might want to screen shot, copy this down, or re-tweet this because, IT’S GOOD, real good and I can’t take any credit for it.)

“It gets better I promise. I hit rock bottom multiple times, scraped by with working meaningless stupid jobs. Did things for meal sand not for good purposes like creating beautiful art films.

And then one day it just begins to change in your favor.

The good thing is, just because you don’t have money in the bank doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It just means you’re a human and sometimes you have money and sometimes you don’t. My favorite quote,

‘a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.'”

WELL DANG.

A few posts back I mentioned how these seasons, these stretching, challenging, uncertain season are necessary for the bettering of who we are. The rocky seas, the storms are exactly what we need in order to know how to navigate through this isn-storm of life sometimes. How do we know what we deserve if not because of the example of what we didn’t? How do we know when to walk away from something that wasn’t good for us to be in if not because we had to experience the “bad” first? We need these moments. I need these moments, of knowing what scraping looks like so that I never get comfortable with earthly ‘provision” (but I mean…. a comma in those numbers every once in a while would be SO LOVELY) I digress.

The last thing he said to me was,

“Don’t ever underestimate the power of ‘falling forward.'”

hm Falling forward. In day eight I talked about how the falling is inevitable but the real meaning behind falling is to determine how to get back up and get back up strong. I think we assume if we’re falling then we either 1. go backwards  or 2. stay where we are. Falling forward gives us the confidence in the fact that there is power in the falling because we will be stronger when we get back up. I have been trying to hustle and work as much as I can just to make it but I don’t let myself rest even a little bit, I think “treating yourself” means trying to get to bed before 2am and I keep thinking that I need to say yes to every job that comes my way. I haven’t had much patience nor grace with myself lately.  So I mentioned in day eight that I was in the midst of reading “Rising Strong” by Brené Brown and her words just on top of being absolutely awesome are also extremely encouraging so I will end with this and hope you feel encouraged too.

“…sometimes when we are beating ourselves up, we need to stop and say to that harassing voice inside,

“Man, I’m doing the very best I can right now.”  ”

Do the best right now, with what you can and with what you have.

Be willing to show up and have a little more patience with yourself.

You’re doing the best you can and that is more than okay.

Day fourteen || 30days30minutes

For some reason, when I think of “feminism”, this is the first thing that comes to mind–

Maybe it’s the way she gets them all whiled up for this really great sleepover dance scene or maybe it’s the way they find a common thread of hurt and refuse to let themselves be victims because of it (oh yeah, 13 going on 30 can be real deep). Perhaps its because this moment, I think this scene is the perfection depiction of the power women have when they put aside the expectations of others and forced guidelines of who to and not to be and  thus dance harder because the weight on them is lighter.

I thought for a long time that feminism was a “secular” term, until I realized how masognistic the church can be sometimes (sometimes intentionally and most times out of naivety) and realized even deeper the need for it to be a universal topic of conversation. Last night, I attended my churchs’ women ministry event, WOMEN ARE _____ (the blank space is filled every month with a new word; Brave, Strong, United, Called, Enough. 

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In that room, over four-hundred women gathered together and heard the stories of other women who have been strong in their lives. SPOILER! Want to know the common thread in all of their stories? They had to experience what weakness looked like first, they had to be pulled out of their comfort zone and thrown into the dirt in order to know what getting back up looked like.

I was overwhelmed and literally had goosebumps by the experience of it all. Do you know the type of power women have when we’re all together? Do you know the type of damage (i mean the good kind) that we could do when we finally stop looking at one another as competition and realize WE’RE LITERALLY IN THIS TOGETHER?! *cue High school musical choreography*

The possibilities are infinite, the potential is monumental and therefore the fear is even greater.

Yes. fear.

Fear that we of women have in ourselves and fear that people have of us.

You’re not a threat.

You are not a ticking bomb.

You are not a volcano of unruly emotions.

You are not bossy.

You are not any name outside of your own given to you by birth.

You are not the fistful of apologies you stuff in your mouth when you have absolutely nothing to be sorry for.

You are not less.

I think it’s sad that we have to live in a world that we have to refer to ourselves as feminist when we just know exactly who we are, what we’re called to do and know that we will not in your boxes. THAT’S CALLED BEING HUMAN. I am human and I just so happen to be created with a little extra hip, sass and also potential and the ability to communicate really well. But you better believe I will call myself whatever I need to until people realize this is truth not the exception nor the rule but every bit of truth.

I don’t know why we’re still having the conversation of weather or not women should be pastors. GO SOMEWHERE.

The answer is yes. The answer is heck yes.

I will never forget when my Mom preached her first sermon at my baptist church and had to speak on the floor when just weeks before a twelve-year old boy speak and was able to share his message from the pulpit. This image– is engrained in my mind because I don’t believe that’s what Jesus intended at all. Not the same Jesus who allowed WOMEN to tell everyone that he had rose from the grave, not the Jesus who CONSTANTLY allowed WOMEN to be such crucial parts of the gospel story. Not the same Jesus who MIND YOU was brought into this world by –HOLD UP ….A WOMAN!! Woah game changer.

Today was spent surrounded by a group of high school and college aged women who were told in various ways by various people that their story was one worth hearing and worth sharing. This has to be reiterated at conferences because they get told everyday that they aren’t enough. It will never get exhausting having to remind women that they’re powerful, strong, wise, loved, gifted and worthy but it does get exhausting when they are hearing the very opposite from everywhere else.

This is my woman empowerment post.

This is my, you are more than enough girl, woman, lady anthem.

When we realize the potential we have individually AND the potential we have together — hot dang you better believe this world AINT READY. Because when we come, we will not come with vengeance, we will come with confidence and a woman with confidence is enough to shatter the very foundation of reality as we know it.

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