Thinking Too Hard About Peaches

Photo from Unsplash by Brigitte Tohm

Photo from Unsplash by Brigitte Tohm

This morning I cut into a beautiful, ripe peach and suddenly I was taken back to when I was four years old, eating a peach, and so scared of the pit inside it.

Likely I was scared of the peach pit because my mom had warned me that it was poisonous and could hurt me.  But maybe it was because of how gross-looking the fruit just around the pit is -- a little too like flesh and blood in both color and texture for my taste.  Or maybe the reason it freaked me out was that there wasn't a hard line between what was good to eat, and what was not good to eat.  What if the stuff right around the pit was poison, too?  How was I supposed to know that I wasn't getting too close to something dangerous?

I don't mean to take peaches into a realm of psychoanalysis where they do not belong.  And for the record I would like to just say that I know peaches are not dangerous, or scary.  But...just hang with me for another second.  Because today when I cut into the peach, that lack of boundary between the end of the peach and the beginning of the pit sort of freaked me out anew.  It got me thinking that as much as l like to think that I can take things in stride, and just go with the flow, I actually have a strong preference for clear parameters, rule-following, and knowing what to expect.

I don't have anything particularly transcendent to derive from this.  Just taking this chance to observe how much I want to think of myself one way, and how discordant my true nature can actually be sometimes.  I am (I think?) at a stage in life where I am coming to terms with who I actually am...not who I think I am, want to be, or think I should become.  Just me, in my habits, in my thoughts, my patterns + proclivities.  It is a telling revelation, at times.  It forces me to realize that the things that I say that I love, are not always the things that I love.  The things that I do, are not always the things I would tell you a person's time is best spent doing.

It is a mirror.  One I might prefer to avert my eyes from.  But is it better to look away, preserving my comfort, pride, vanity, at the very steep expense of my character?

I'm thinking it really isn't.

A Month in Review: February 2017

February was short + sweet as always, and jam-packed, too!  Here are a few things that happened...

  • As it has for the past four years, February kicked off with the IF:Gathering.  I got to spend it with four dear friends up on Lake Hartwell.  This year's theme was discipleship -- specifically going small + being present where you are.  Such good + needed reminders for where I am right now, which is constantly wondering if I'm in the right place (can you relate?!).  I think the main application I took away from that time was a renewed sense of my role as a wife -- specifically, that it is okay for me to take time out of the day to do things like pray for John while he is at work, prepare food that nourishes us + care for our home.  This may sound like a small thing, or something obvious but I really haven't been letting myself take time for those things, and so they always became overwhelming whenever the needs presented themselves.  Now, because I have made a space in my mind and day for those things it is so much easier to do them with joy!  It's those little adjustments sometimes that seem to make the biggest difference.
  • Another thing that came early in February was flower-slinging for V-Day!  My dear friend Ayla + I were able to sell some of her bouquets at a local boutique, the pop up I mentioned in last month's report!  I have to say that in this case, the fun really outweighed the work.  We had such a blast!
  • I also had the fun chance to go and visit my friend Maddie's new retail space in Duluth, GA! She and her mom run Personify Shop together, and I am SO excited for her in this next phase of her business -- the shop is set to be open in April, so go ahead and add it to your must-see list for the Spring!
  • For Valentine's Day, John surprised me and took me to Athens for the day to visit one of my all-time favorite places, the State Botanical Garden.  We lived in Athens for a year before we moved to Boston, and I can't tell you how many times I visited those gardens!  They are somewhat reminiscent of the Arboretum I grew up going to.  Apparently, I am a little bit of a garden junkie + I don't care who knows it!  We had such a great day together.  There's us squinting at you from said gardens, below :)
  • I had the privilege + joy of creating paper goods for my friend Karen, as she amazingly dreamed up + pulled off the first Maybe to Yes workshop for Wedding Planners!  Some ladies with an exquisite eye came together to execute a modern + whimsical styled shoot as a part of the workshop.  I am sure I'll be able to share more photos before long!
  • We were invited to our first show at Eddie's Attic in February, and in my book it definitely lives up to all of the hype -- I do prefer a small + intimate setting for my concerts, so it's pretty ideal as far as I am concerned!
  • The tail end of this month brought about some pretty hard core nesting -- I've always said that I am a slow settler and now that we've lived in these six hundred and one square feet for a full six months...I guess it felt like time!  I've pulled out a couple of our things that hadn't made it out of bubble wrap yet, and I made a successful solo trip to IKEA that involved some velvet curtains, a set of pink juice glasses, a couple more RIBBA frames (duh), one kilim pillow cover and some very adorable rattan chairs.  IKEA forever.
  • In other business news...still working hard on the aforementioned collaborative project + our hope is to launch this spring -- not much longer now!  We had a shoot and produced a catalogue this month, which was an extremely rewarding process.
  • That said, I am still doing some side projects and loving every opportunity I have to make beautiful things for others.  I have really focused my work down to a select handful of projects, still including logo design and wedding paper, the things I have always loved most!  You can see a list of my services here, and view my portfolio here.
  • The last thing I will report from February is that I decided to take a break from Instagram, the primary reason being that it is an exercise in mindfulness.  I've observed how often I find myself mindlessly opening it, and my battery usage report keeps no secrets!  This hiatus really isn't meant to be anything sinister or overblown, I just don't want to encourage Instagram (or any app) to have that kind of hold on my attention.  I chose to put it on the shelf as a part of my observation of the season of Lent.  It is a little crazy to reimagine my world without Instagram!  I have to say though, I haven't much missed it.  Curious to see what comes of this :)

In response to the goals I set for February at the end of last month:

  • I said I wanted to both write every day and read every day -- neither of which happened!  I didn't really set any parameters around that, which never helps.  Lofty goals.
  • I also said I wanted to write this review on the last day in January, to which I have to say better late than never.

Some things I want to do in March:

  • Finally visit the DeKalb Farmer's Market...it is legendary, and apparently not very much like a farmer's market at all.  I promise to report :)
  • Also visit Scott's Antique Market in South Atlanta!
  • See the new Beauty + the Beast.  I may or may not be counting down the days.
  • Write another review before April is halfway over :) ...and maybe write a couple other posts between now and then!

Thanks for reading!  Until then,

A Month in Review: January 2017

You all know by now that I have The Big Feelings.  So I feel okay telling you about this song lyric that I absolutely love:

"Life without revision / will silence our souls" - Sleeping At Last

Yes, I know it's waxing dramatic...but it's also got some solid truth in it.

Don't we all say things like, "where did the week go?" and "how is it already February!?".  I know I do, constantly.  The anxious undercurrent of that sentiment is not only about time + how quickly it seems to pass -- it's another layer deeper, too, which is that the time passes and I'm not really sure how well I interacted with it.

I don't mean to get too dark + heavy, but I kinda feel like many of you will be able to relate!

The best thing I know to do (besides grow a miraculous ability to seize every day with consistent and undying vigor) is to review.  To look back at what I've done and what it's taught me, and to use that knowledge to step into the days ahead.

So here's what happened this month:

  • I started a part-time job at my Pure Barre studio in Atlanta, and I am absolutely loving it!  It is such joy to serve the women in our community by making them feel welcome and safe in our studio.  If you're a fellow Atlantan, I hope you'll stop by and visit!!
  • I have continued working with my mother-in-law on some decorating jobs, which is so rewarding because I always learn something new + I of course love getting to work with my hands and make things look beautiful to bring others joy.  
  • I have also gotten to do some flower work with a dear friend; she brought me on along with a small team to arrange a mountain of babies breath for a wedding!  It was unlike anything I have ever done with flowers, and it was a ton of fun.  She and I are gearing up for a multi-day flower pop-up for Valentine's Day, so there will be more flowers in the month to come.
  • Probably the most major shift that has occurred (as far as work goes) is that I've started working closely with a fellow lady entrepreneur + friend to build a business that encourages women to live a fruitful life.  The way this entire thing came about was totally a gift from God; the story really merits more than a bullet point on a list, so I do plan to share it at greater length at some point!  But for now I want to tell you that together we are developing a line of paper goods + a subscription mailing that we are super excited about!  This is one of the main reasons I decided to hold off on producing my own line of stationery -- our two visions were so (spookily) similar that it made the most sense to merge my efforts with hers.  It's so cool you guys, I am so thrilled + thankful + excited to share more with you as things progress!  Even though I decided not to move forward with the stationery line, I am still making wedding stationery + doing bridal calligraphy, as well as taking business clients for logos + design projects.  So nothing has really changed, just growing in some unforeseen ways + I could not be more thankful.
  • The most major shift that happened on a personal level is...I realized that I love Atlanta!  This might sound really funny (it kind of is a funny thing to take note of) but if you know me you know that there was a time that I promised up and down that I would sooner burst into flame than live in Atlanta.  So -- pretty radical transformation, I would say.  It's honestly just felt like such a gift + I have been basking in it ever since I realized it was true.  Never say never, as the ever-wise J. Biebs would say.
  • Are you also interested in knowing that I have *almost* successfully made it through the acclamation period for switching to natural deodorant??!  You probably did want to know that, right?  For those of you savvy about natural beauty products + procedures, I switched to Piper Wai, which was recommended to me by a trusted friend over a year ago.  I had tried a few other brands in the past and never made it this far in the process, mostly because they never worked as well for me early on.  If you are reading this and it sounds like complete nonsense to you, I beseech you for the sake of your lymph nodes + overall wellbeing: make the switch!  There is all kinds of icky stuff in regular deodorant + for some reason no one ever tells you this until you have already been slathering it on for a decade and a half.  So I am telling you: do it now, while it's winter, because it'll take up to two weeks for your body to adjust its pH levels + for the new natural to work (i know, it's a little stinky but it is worth it).  I am not a scientist, so I can't authoritatively tell you much more, but as a friend I am just saying it's worth looking into.  

And a few things I think I can say I have learned:

  • As you know, we started a brand new year, which is always super exciting for it's clean-slate feeling.  However, this year I felt pretty overwhelmed by goal setting in the sense that I didn't really do any of that.  Haha.  I tried to do some preemptive planning back in December, but a lot has changed between then and now (see above), so I've basically been living through this month feeling frantically behind.  You know what?  I don't think I want to do that again!  It has been a good month in so many ways, I just wish I would not have gotten so hung up on feeling "behind". 
  • That said, I don't want to only live in reaction mode.  There is still a place for intention, even when you are receiving each day as it comes, taking one day at a time.  I think the best way for me is to have an idea of what I would like to accomplish, and not worrying about all the things that come up later + never get done.  Does that make sense?  That said...

A few goals for February:

  • to write everyday - this was in my mind coming into the new year, and I think it feels so frivolous that I haven't prioritized it properly.  But you know, this is one of those things I have wanted to make space for for longer than I can remember.  And it doesn't have to be complicated so I'm just going to do it!
  • to read everyday - another thing I haven't let happen because it isn't "essential"...at least not on the surface.  But you guys, I firmly believe that my quality of life improves like so drastically when I just allow my mind that time to take in someone else's thoughts.  And I set out with the intention to read 12 books this year + made the huge mistake of starting with Moby Dick...so maybe instead of quantifying it (because that never seems to go very well for me), I'll just move toward opening a book each day + see where that takes me.  Not to knock Moby Dick, though, it's actually way better than I expected!  Still as dense, though.
  • to write a monthly review again on the last day of February!

That pretty much sums it up...I have no idea if this will be fun for anyone besides me to read, so you'll have to let me know. 

Til then!

How + Why I Restructured My Prices

I am nothing if not transparent, I suppose.  I am writing this primarily to creatives like me who have really struggled to land on prices you can feel confident charging.  If that's you -- surprise!  You're not the only one, and I honestly don't think that pricing as a creative should wear a cloak of mystery.  So I am doing what I can to blow the cover + just share very candidly with you what I am doing, and why.  

If you are reading this as a client or potential client, that's totally fine too!  I am glad you are interested in knowing more of my thought process behind this, and I want you of all people to feel like you have a clear picture of how + why I price things the way I do.

First, I feel it needs to be said that I am not a financial expert...but I am married to one, and he was the brains behind this operation!  So take that with as many grains of salt as you'd like.

Secondly, this is a very simple and not-so-revolutionary approach.  Even though I like to give all the credit to my man...he didn't really come up with this.  (Sorry, babe.)  But the good news there is that this system is old + proven to work!  Easy enough to get on board with, right?

Okay. So what I've done is created a tiered pricing system which is exactly what it sounds like.  There are four tiers in my system (for now) and conventional wisdom says that three is the sweet spot.  Personally, I felt the need for a little bit more diversity in my offering, but who knows -- it may not prove necessary.  Time will tell, and I'll adjust as needed.

If you're interested in the specifics, I now have the following offerings (and these are all listed for anyone to see if you follow the services link above -- again, this isn't meant to be secret information!):

Every product or service that I offer can fit into one of these categories, and within each listing I've given examples of projects that would fit into each tier.  This includes wedding work, design + styling as well.  At this point, I have a strong grasp on how long something should take me to execute, and so it's really simple to fit projects into these different classes based on the time, labor, supplies and utilities it will take to create them.  Granted -- there will be outliers, but I'll account for those as they come up, and will likely lean heavily on this plan to determine the cost of a project that may not fit into any of these tiers perfectly.  

It may seem reductive -- but the truth is, I so badly needed to de-clutter.  I can't begin to tell you (and I probably don't have to) the amount of energy I wasted every time I would price out a project.  I am so thankful to do the work that I get to do, but I have to admit that there was a fair amount of anxiety that would come with each new inquiry or project request.  Not only would I worry about pricing any current project fairly, I would carry with me a fear of the next one I would have to work out!  This made for slow email response times, a shrinking confidence in my craft + ability to carry myself as a business person, and lots of nail-biting and headaches.  No one wants that!  I certainly didn't.  I knew I needed to get a new plan in place.  

It wasn't for lack of trying that I didn't have a plan: I have probably written thirty pricing menus over the past two years, and every time I would finish one I would still feel uneasy about it.  I knew I wouldn't be able to immediately answer someone if they asked me a question about how I charge, and in my mind, that meant the problem was not solved.  I couldn't even back myself up.

I heard about tiered pricing a while back on my favorite podcast, The Fizzle Show (shameless plug, not an ad!) and I thought it sounded great but didn't have a clue as to how I would implement it.  I think it really took John going over this with me because he offered validity to my reasoning.  It's things like this that really demand the insight and input of someone who isn't you; because only you can do what you do, but you are not in this as a person whose craft is to make up prices, if I had to guess.  That's a necessary side show to having a craft.  So, if you're stuck, go get some trusted help and I'm sure you won't regret it.

Latent beneath this entire discussion is one that has to do with valuing your work, role, and contribution as an artist.  I think creatives universally struggle with "impostor syndrome", or the belief that you do not really belong in the role of maker/artist/creative...whichever term you prefer.  We can trick ourselves into believing that just because something comes naturally to us, it isn't fair to charge for it.  Or that no one will want to buy our thing because we aren't "established" enough.  Or that if we really put ourselves out there, people will see that we don't really have it together.  Or...a hundred other things.  Guess what, you're not the only one on that train of thought, either!  And the other thing is that none of this is really true.  Like I said, we trick ourselves.  Stop that.  Your contribution is so valid, and you merit the opportunity to work out how to charge fairly just by showing up + giving your best.

I hope this is helpful, or at least encouraging!  Let me know if you want to have a further discussion about any of this, or if you want me to bum some financial advice off my hubby in the off-hours!  I am happy to, on either account.

Just remember that you don't have to be in a state of constant struggle to succeed.  Sometimes there are very simple measures you can take that will make a world of difference!

'til next time!

xo,

My Favorite Lettering Tools

It seems to me that the internet is saturated with videos of people writing with a full spectrum of markers, pens, brushes, pencils, even crayons...and the list goes on!  It's definitely not a lack of options that presents the difficulty of choosing your lettering tools, but the overwhelm of knowing which ones to choose.

When I first took up lettering, I of course had no idea where to begin.  How could anyone?  I knew for sure I wanted to try my hand at writing with a nib...but even still, there are about one zillion different kinds of nibs to choose from!

I did a fair bit of reading online, but ultimately what it comes down to is good old trial + error.  What works for someone else may not work as well for you, so don't hesitate to try!

So, if your method so far has been to wander the aisles of Blick in a fog (been there!), what I'd say to you is this: you won't figure it out without trying, so just take a chance on a few little pens and see what works for you!  Everyone's writing style is going to be a bit varied anyway, and the tools do play a role in that, but it's not a make-or-break situation.  I'm sure there are pens out there I've yet to discover that one day I'll love writing with.  But that's part of the fun...so instead of giving in to overwhelm on the front end, just jump in and try a few, get to know them, and remember that there are more out there that you can try later.  So basically it's exactly like looking for your pen soul mate....easy.

I don't know if I've reached that level yet, but here are a few that work for me that I've made multiple purchases of.  

Here are links to where you can buy all of them.  Blick is my favorite for buying in-store, and online I like Paper & Ink Arts.

Nikko G + Straight Pen | Le Pen Drawing Marker | Tombow | PITT Artist Pen | Brushes

If you've already gotten started and are feeling discouraged (particularly with paper + ink pairings for calligraphy - too much bleeding, not enough saturation...oh, the many woes!) just remember that every time you discover an option that doesn't work, you're that much closer to finding others that will.  

There are plenty out there, I promise you.  I'll have to write a separate post for inks + papers.  Until then...just have fun!  Try some things you've seen others using, and try some things that look like fun to you.  Try some dirt-cheap options, and maybe splurge on a few that seem interesting.  Splurging on a pen, after all, can mean spending $5 in many cases so...if you have five dollars then you've got little inhibition.  

Happy lettering!

xo,

There is Good News

click here to download

click here to download

Fear is my natural state, the obvious + easy choice for me. Exactly like an unhealthy relationship I know I shouldn't be in, it somehow worms it's way back into my life and always says precisely the thing it knows will get me. But. Because of our too-long history, I know fear just as well as it knows me and I recognize it's cheap tricks and hollow threats. It doesn't ever truly change: always accusing, always undermining, always lurking.

It is a harder choice, to trust in a rescuer I cannot see while the storm of fear rages on all around me. Despite myself, I cannot help but believe that if I am going to fight, it is a far better fight to align myself with the one who came to give us peace, on whom the spirit and favor of God came to rest. Who did not bully, or fight, or crush the weak. Who faced and defeated fear, who embodied sacrifice to the point of death so that in times like these, we might have oneness with him. Who does for me what I cannot do myself: frees me from fear, frees me to himself. 

I know not everyone reading this has an existing relationship with Jesus, and so I know that this could come off as a little aloof, or insensitive, or head-in-the-clouds.  I get that.  I would say to you, if there is any pull on your heart to know him, to follow it.  He is nothing but good, I can promise you that.

I know, too, that some of you reading this do claim Christ, but have still in a moment of weakness chosen to be overtaken by fear.  I know that the storm is very loud.  I know it's easy to give in to.  But remember how able he is to do for you what you cannot do for yourself!  Trust in him, and take heart: we are promised trouble in this life.  But we are also promised and shown that he has overcome a world of trouble, to know us and walk with us intimately.  Do not give in to thinking that he is not able now.   

There is an old hymn that a favorite artist of mine, Audrey Assad, has covered on her most recent album.  This line especially speaks to me: "No storm can shake my inmost calm / while to that refuge clinging."

It is difficult to believe any of this is possible outside of faith.  It is difficult to believe this when our faith seems small, or has been shaken.  But as far as I can see -- the worthiest fight is for perspective, and the only perspective that keeps ground beneath my feet is the unshakable refuge of the cross.

click here to download

click here to download

Living With Less: No-Spend November Challenge!

I didn't used to consider myself a minimalist.  In fact, I weighed pretty heavily on the side of a pack rat for most of my teenage + college years.  I think the beginning of the shift toward minimalism was when John + I moved to Boston...in our Honda civic!  Full disclosure, we did ship about 12 (sizable) boxes of books and clothes, too, but just about everything that we needed or valued had to fit into that car with us.  

As long as I can remember, I have been fascinated + felt personally challenged by the philosophy of "use what you have, and only have what you need".  I also love this well-known quote, by William Morris: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”  So you know I fell hard for The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up when I picked it up this past January.  I kon-maried my whole life + I almost feel ready to do it again (except for the weird sock folding.  That never took).  

Even after paring down immensely two years ago, we already have accumulated more stuff than I can believe or account for!  We now live in a 601 square-foot studio apartment, and let me tell you -- we are maxing it out.  So, for this reason and generally for the purpose of leaner living, I have decided to take advantage of this new month to challenge myself to bring into our home only the things that we really need. 

That includes groceries, gas + bills, as far as I can tell.  I am not following any no-spend plan, (I know they exist out there on the internet) I am just going to keep it super simple + cut anything that isn't totally necessary.  I'll give you weekly progress reports as accountability for myself, so if you want to join me, you are more than welcome!  I would love to have a teammate or two, so let me know if you decide to go for it!!  I'm definitely excited to see what I can learn from this.

Here goes :) xo,

October Donation Sale: Beats the Streets Atlanta

So I'm trying this new thing.

For a while now, I've wanted to find a way to donate a percentage of my income as an artist to a non-profit organization.  It is a small philanthropic gesture, but one that I feel I am capable of making.  Furthermore, it is a reflection of my belief that God has given me the opportunity to work in this capacity, and thus I want to use it in a way that is redemptive + honoring to Him.

I realized I had some fears holding me back (always), but I am long ready to move past those + get to giving. 

So here's the plan: every month, I will choose one organization to give to*.  I will then sell one piece and give 100% of the proceeds to the chosen organization of the month!  In other words, that is twelve one-time gifts to twelve different organizations. 

This month, I have chosen Beats the Streets Atlanta, which is an amazing organization I found out about through a work connection of John's.  I strongly encourage you to visit their site, whether you are interested in donating through me or not.

So, without further ado...

Incase you didn't know this already, I am somewhat of a dreamer, and so I already have so many ideas for how I'd love to see this grow.  I want to share a few of them with you now in the event that you have skills I don't have that could make this bigger + better over time.

  1. I'd love to do an auction-style sale so that I don't have to cap the amount if someone wants to give more to a particular cause.  I am sure there is a pretty simple way to do that but I sort of wanted to make sure there weren't any legal concerns around that...which may be a bit extreme, but either way, if you have any experience with this, I'd love to hear from you.
  2. I'd love to have a wider reach -- so if you are reading this, you can help with that!  You are invited to share this with someone you think would like it, or with all of your 1,800 best friends on Facebook.  Whatever floats your boat, either way, I'd be so grateful! :)
  3. I would also be interested in doing a collaborative bundle sale of some kind.  If you are a maker or artist + think you would like to donate some of your work to be sold, I'd definitely be open to having a conversation with you.

*The inspiration to donate this way came about through my discovery of the organization Dollar a Day.  I was really struggling with which organization to give to, and so I was really inspired by their model of giving to 356 different organizations a year - one for each day!  If you click the link to their site, you'll find that while that have discontinued their project, they invite anyone to use + replicate their concept for other causes. 

Thanks for reading!!

Practice: Saying No to Fear.

Do you know what kinds of things your fear is keeping you from?

Ever since I began to work for profit as an artist, I've wanted to find a way to donate a percentage of my proceeds to a non-profit organization.  It is a small philanthropic gesture, but one that I feel I am capable of making.  Furthermore, it is a reflection of my belief that God has given me the opportunity to work in this capacity, and thus I want to use it in a way that is redemptive + honoring to Him.

As with most things, though, I have found myself immobilized by fear.  Yes -- I am very adept at finding ways to have fears about something that isn't even scary!

Well, but it isn't the thing itself that is scary.  It's the thing beneath the not-scary thing that is scary.  Or, as my dad has always said, "the problem is not the problem".  There are layers, and there is more than meets the eye.  Always.  

So, what is the scary thing lurking underneath the not-scary thing?  

I feel like I need to pick one organization to commit to for all of time.  I've also worried about being too inconsistent with it, not knowing what process to follow, or what percentage to give.  Deeper still: what if no one buys anything from me in the first place?  What if no one wants the things I work to put into the world?  If my work is not valued, that must mean that I myself am not valued.

And the spiral goes downward from there.  This is the fear of failure, my friends.  It has often taken me down, blind + cold.

As I'm writing this, it feels so absurd that I could let these minute, selfish things keep me from doing something I want to do, that I know is helpful + good.

When you peel back the layers, though, revealing a perceived assault on the deep-seated issue of identity -- it is no wonder to recoil in fear.  To stay out of the line of fire, safe, and perhaps with unmet desires, but not crushed.

I must not let the fear of wounding my identity stop me from doing what I know is good. 

That is no way to live.  And the truth, that I know deep down, is that my identity is safe in Christ, or as 1 Corinthians 6:17 says, "but whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit."  It is not a question of wholeness, not in this case, or ever.  My identity is not in the mortal danger I perceive it to be, after all.  I am already whole, and have been given "not a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7)

This may not be your battle, and that's okay.  I am always amazed by people who never seem to become entangled in fear, because this has been my fight, every day, since day one.  If it is you, though, I hope you will practice saying no to fear with me, and see how freeing it can be.

 

Peace over troubled waters.

I know I've said a lot lately about how weird this season has been -- you'd think that after living with myself for almost 26 years, I'd know how to anticipate my reaction to a season of change, but no, still a surprise almost every time.  Actually, in this case, I did sort of expect it, but my timing was off:  I thought everything would be weird immediately, as soon as we got here.  I was off on the timing, and so therefore completely thrown off when the weirdness finally hit me.

We just made this big move to a new city, and with that comes so many opportunities + exciting things: new places to explore, old friends to connect with and new friends to meet, the fun of settling into a new vibe + a new routine.

I had fun with that for the first month we were here, and I certainly anticipate continuing to have fun with it.  But right now, I am in the middle of dealing with what hit me like a cold brick wall about three weeks ago.  I am trying to discern who I am here.  What it means to be myself, here.

I've been, like I said before, running around like my hair is on fire, trying to do everything I can think of just to see what sticks.  Here is a taste of my inner dialogue over the past couple of weeks:

"Am I still a calligrapher here?  Maybe I should try to be a stylist, too.  Or maybe I should design stationery.  Or, I could get a part-time job at Anthro.  Probably not a very good idea, though, because I'll just buy everything and have to start kon-mari-ing my life all over again.  Maybe I should be a blogger!  But what kind of blogger?  Maybe I should get a full time job at a law firm so I can wear pencil skirts.  I only have one pencil skirt.  Maybe I need to buy some more.  I could also wear the pencil skirts if I went back to school.  I could always go back to school!  But, I don't really like school.  I would have to make sure it was for something I really loved.  What do I really love?  What am I actually good at?  What is my purpose in life???  Am I supposed to be a calligrapher?"

OMG.  I'm so tired of it you guys.  It's on an infinite loop + I can't turn it off.

But.

In tandem with my never ever ending crazy self-talk, there is a small but steady voice.  Underneath all of this junk, that I know is madness, that I know is leading nowhere.  This voice is the one I want to follow, and stop and listen to, but it really is an uphill battle to ignore the questions and the distractions brought about by purpose and obligation.  I know it is worth my effort, though, so I strain to listen through the chaos.

This undercurrent voice is not demanding, unlike all of the fearful thoughts that hover above it + run in circles around it.  It is something that is the opposite of fear.  It is something like peace.  Deep peace, everlasting peace, coming from the only place that true peace comes, the Prince of Peace.  "God is not a God of confusion, but of peace," 1 Corinthians 14:33 says.  In John chapter 16, verse 33, Jesus says, "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world."

I once heard someone described their inner state as a bird on the water; calm and collected on the surface, but paddling frantically under water + out of sight.  

This is not how I want to operate.  If there is peace available to me -- and I believe there is -- I want to access it.  I want to do everything within my power to silence the voices of fear and control, and listen to the calm, still voice of peace.  Trouble is a promise.  But so is peace, from he who has overcome the world.  It will never be one without the other, but there is always a choice to let one win.

Choosing peace over troubled waters today.  I hope you'll join me; may you find the strength to do so.

xo,