Vacation Style: Make It Easy

OK. First things first. If you came to read about some amazingly styled and perfect, curated outfits…yeah, sorry. I don’t have room in my suitcase for that, nor do I want to annoy my husband with the time it takes me to decide on an outfit on top of the time it takes me to get ready. The good news, though? I feel like I’ve finally found a way to put together looks that fit my personal style, require minimal packing, and cut my “deciding/getting ready” time.

Let’s talk about it.

In years past, I would pack literally 37 outfits, a separate suitcase AND a shoe bag. Yep. A shoe bag. Once there, I was constantly overwhelmed by all of my choices, and I would have to come in from the beach like an hour earlier than everyone else to be ready to leave on time. Not cool.

But this trip, packing and styling was different. Here’s what I changed.

I packed several mix and match basics. Here’s why. I don’t want to be stuck with an outfit I planned ahead of time that I don’t feel like wearing. To be honest? I rarely plan my outfits in advance when I’m back at home. (Anyone else?!) Vacation is no different. My preferences for what I want to wear change daily. Heck, who are we kidding…they change hourly. So I packed a few swing dresses that I could style in so many ways, along with graphic tanks (to wear with shorts or jeans), v-neck tees, and only one special blouse. The blouse could be paired with shorts or jeans as well. Then I brought two pairs of jeans and three pairs of shorts. That way, I felt like I was still styling myself, as in I could choose from several different combinations of basics.

If I had to pick a favorite, it would be the first outfit pictured below. It felt perfect for a night out with my fam.

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Our favorite place to eat in Destin. Highly recommend LuLu’s!

LOOK 1: “Special blouse” + jeans + nude heels

TOP: The Limited, literally 8 years old

JEANS: Target, in-store; here’s a SIMILAR JEAN

HEELS: TARGET

BAG: Rebecca Minkoff, old

 

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As I said on Instagram, I’m really having fun playing around with different tucks to create a slightly different look with a tank and jeans combo.

LOOK 2: Graphic tank + jeans + neutral sandals

TANK: EVEREVE

JEANS: TARGET

SANDALS: FREE PEOPLE

BAG: Rebecca Minkoff, old

 

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I LOVE these Old Navy swing dresses. Such great blank canvases. To make it my own (and give it an edgier feel), I added camo and black. It’s what feels like me!

LOOK 3: Swing dress + print mix

DRESS (I also own one in black and white stripes. Of course.): OLD NAVY

NECKLACE (also featured in look 1, my absolute favorite necklace): STELLA & DOT

HEELS: LUCKY BRAND

CLUTCH: Sole Society, old

I still brought the shoe bag… ha ha. Since I saved space in clothes I packed, I thought packing several different pairs of shoes would be acceptable. I am a firm believer in shoes making the outfit, so while my outfit every day was going to consist of basics, my shoes would add that extra pop of interest. I have always loved shoes, and to me, they are the ultimate outfit finisher. So my suggestion? Think about your “outfit finisher.” Is it jewelry? Hats? Whatever it is, I give you my permission to back that one thing in abundance. Because I packed so many shoes, I kept it light on the jewelry, too.

I have been to Florida’s panhandle three times in the last four years, and I will say this trip was the easiest for me in terms of getting dressed and actually being ready by the time everyone else wanted to leave. And you know what else made this process so much easier? Having clothes to pack that fit my personal style exactly. I used to think that vacation prep meant spending a ton on clothes for the upcoming trip. And honestly? For this trip, I bought a bikini top. AND THAT’S IT. It is truly a freeing feeling when your closet is in line with your personal style. If yours isn’t, let’s fix that. Drop me a comment below or head on over to the “contact me” section of my website to work with me as your personal stylist. I would love to give you that closet (and packing) freedom!

A Mom Wanders into Target…ALONE…

So Target is basically a mom’s oasis. We know this. I had the luxury of going there sans children the other day, and with my extra time, I decided to try on some pieces from the Universal Thread line that I have been hearing so much about. And what did I end up getting? Four pieces featured below as well as THE BEST nude block heel.

Try-On #1: UNIVERSAL THREAD ROMPER

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Rompers and 5’11” women typically don’t get along. While I found this romper to be very soft and comfortable, I knew I would be uncomfortable with how short the shorts were. Now that I look at the picture, I don’t know why I felt that way. Oh well. Honestly…you tall women can commiserate…most of us have a little complex about dresses, shorts, skirts, and rompers being too short on us. P.S. this is a medium, and I am typically a size 6/8.

VERDICT: No

TRY-ON #2: UNIVERSAL THREAD STRIPED KNIT DRESS

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I’ve really been looking to add some tank dresses to my wardrobe for summer nights out. I loved the striping and the feel of the fabric in this dress, but I wasn’t crazy about the neckline on me. Honestly, I may go back and try it on with a different (ahem) undergarment on. Maybe that was the problem. This is a medium.

VERDICT: not right now…maybe later?

TRY-ON #3: UNIVERSAL THREAD MONTEREY V-NECK TEE (black and white stripe) and Universal Thread High-Rise Jegging (can’t find specific ones I’m wearing online)

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I love a basic tee. It is the blank canvas of your outfit planning. Trust me. And what outfit combo is more classic with a great tee and jeans? Loved this tee. I could’ve gone down to a small, but I kept with the medium for extra length and a looser fit. The jeans were great. I love where they hit me, as they do great things for concealing a problem area I have: the dreaded lower belly Mom pooch. I could have worn a six in these, but they were a tad too short for my liking, so I sized up to an 8 in these.

VERDICT: Heck yes!

TRY-ON #4: UNIVERSAL THREAD MONTEREY V NECK (gray) (and same high rise jeggings)

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I know this look is similar to my last…but this outfit was my absolute favorite of all. I love a little front tuck with a little interest in the jean (the white paint splatter) and a nude heel to dress it up a bit. You’ll have to excuse the hot mess hair, as I got ready for my garage sale that entire day.

VERDICT: Yessss

TRY-ON #5: WHO WHAT WEAR LONG SLEEVE SILKY BUTTON DOWN BLOUSE

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OK, so totally not practical for summer…but I LOVED the black button detail, sleeve length, and color of this chambray top (wearing a medium). Again, a chambray top is such a great wardrobe basic. The shorts and the Vans were what I wore into Target, but I’m kinda loving this look as is, though my son affectionately referred to these shorts as my “man shorts.”

VERDICT: Get in my closet. Yes.

TRY-ON #6: Who What Wear blazer (not online yet)

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I knew right when I put this blazer on that it was a no, so I didn’t even snap a picture of it. Instead, this is a screenshot of the video I made and added to my Instastories. I felt very Lady Gaga in this and not in a good way, as I don’t exactly plan on performing on stage any time soon. Too much shoulder action for my liking.

Verdict: Nope.

And now to the star of the show: A NEW DAY MICHAELA PUMPS

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You will see me wearing these in every photo posted above. They did so much for my leg line in the romper and dress, and I loved them with the jeans. Basically I can wear these heels with anything in my closet. I think you need a pair, too. Sizing is pretty true to size. I’m a true 10.5, and I am wearing the 11.

The Universal Thread line reminds me of a cheaper version of Madewell or Lucky Brand, so for those of you shopping on a budget, it’s a great alternative. Also, if you’re not already convinced, BUY THE HEELS.

This Time Around…

Open mouth, insert foot. Face palm. Just imagine me being embarrassingly humbled. Why? I tried to give you advice on how to navigate your summer…when I was the one who desperately needed it. 

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At the beginning of last summer, I wrote a blog post about how teachers can survive the summer. And the summer of 2017 was indeed one of the hardest summers of my life. I couldn’t WAIT for August to roll around. If you want a little eye roll action, read it HERE.

So I’m going to start THIS post by saying that I don’t have all of the answers. But what I can share with you is what I plan to do differently. It’s two-fold, really: perhaps what I’m writing about here can help you as a mama navigating the summer. And perhaps writing this post and checking in with you periodically will help to keep me accountable. 

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This photo was taken of me at the beginning of last summer…I remember telling myself that I wanted to put myself together every morning. Spoiler alert: That SO did not happen.

A typical question I get when I meet someone new: “So what do you do?” I answer, “I teach high school English.” And it’s usually one of two responses: “Ugh. I don’t know how you do that.” or “Well, I bet you sure enjoy those summers off!” 

Yeah…how about NO?! 

Here’s why: I THRIVE on routine. I thrive on having a plan and executing it. I don’t know how to handle life when there is nothing to write down in my planner. Sad but true. Summertime breeds a lack of routine, and it drives me absolutely nuts. 

So I’m vowing to do better, and here’s how:

  1. Send in the reinforcements. I plan on hiring a babysitter once a week. I also am considering restarting my YMCA membership so I can both work out and have two hours of child care provided. The kids LOVED going last summer, and I loved getting my workout in.
  2. Loosely schedule every day. I would like to better execute a plan for each day. Last summer, I tried to implement the “no plan” plan, and I hated it. The kids were bored, and so was I. Also, I was sitting in my sweats at like 10 A.M., and it made me feel icky. Now I’m not judging if that’s your thing…it’s definitely not mine, though.
  3. Bucket list. Make a list of things we can do this summer, and involve the kids! Ask them what they want to do…now that they’re older, they can give great feedback. Shockingly…I’ve never done this.
  4. Institute quiet time. Everyone needs a break from each other, so I plan on instituting at least an hour a day where everyone chills by themselves and reads or plays quietly.
  5. Do something I love to do every day. Summer is about having a little bit more free time, so I want to spend my days pursuing my passions and hobbies: working out, writing, reading, empowering women through fashion, Instagramming….you know, nothing crazy.
  6. Actually keep some parts of my “school routine.” Getting up before everyone and having an hour of prayer and journaling time has done wonders for my sanity as the school year draws to a close. I plan on keeping up with that routine.
  7. Dependence on God. I know summer is a time when I am just emotionally weak. I need to depend on the One who gives me strength when I have none. I actually signed up for Jess Connolly’s SUMMER TO THRIVE SUPPORT GROUP to keep myself accountable for staying in The Word AND learning other ways to find joy in my least favorite season.

I’m sure I will add to this list as I learn and grow over the next few weeks. What steps will you take to ensure that you find joy in your summer?

Mother’s Day: The True Gift

The idea of a Mother’s Day post has been a thought in my mind for weeks. But I’ve been stuck in a bad case of writer’s block. What is everyone writing about in the blogging word? Answer: Mother’s Day gifts. And I love those posts. I read pretty much every single one to find out what I “need” in my closet. But I wanted to go a different direction this year. I want to share my heart, how for a part of my life, I didn’t know if I would become a mother. Mother’s Day is a beautiful time of year to celebrate the gift of motherhood and the women who deserve our love…our moms. But it’s not a beautiful time of year for everyone. 

About eight years ago, ANYTHING that had to do with motherhood made my heart sink. I would tear up with every pregnancy announcement on Facebook. Sometimes I could muster up a “congratulations,” and honestly, sometimes I couldn’t. That’s because I couldn’t become a mother when I wanted to. 

The year of 2010 began with such excitement and promise. Jordan and I decided we were ready to start a family. But month after month of negative pregnancy tests tossed me into the darkest state of life I’ve ever known. I could not get pregnant. Every test at the OBGYN office came back “normal.” (Writer’s note: never tell a woman trying to get pregnant to relax. That is actually about a million times worse than not saying anything at all.) I took so many tests there (no meds, just check-ups to ensure everything was functioning normally…it was) that in September 2010, my OBGYN said that he was referring me to a Fertility Clinic. But the fertility clinic could not see me until January 2011. 

A really important part to this story: I was not walking with Jesus. We had stopped going to church. As a child who was forced to go to church, I wanted freedom to NOT go as an adult, to sleep in on Sundays. 

One day in October, one of my students/volleyball players walked up to my desk after school. She told me that she had a vision of me and that God wanted her to share that picture. She saw me holding a baby boy and crying. (SAY WHAT?! Come again?!) I had told only family and close friends of my struggle. I actually had to tell my boss at the time as well because I was struggling so hard to keep it together at work. 

My student then told me about the Vineyard Church and invited me to come. At the time, like I said, I was what is known as a “Chr-Easter” Christian… I would go to church only on Christmas and Easter. 

That afternoon after my sweet student shared her vision, I sat in my car and prayed aloud for the first time in my life, like a real, raw personal prayer. God. I want to control my life so badly, like I’ve always had. But I’m finally giving you control. If you want me to be a mom, I guess I have to trust that you will make it happen. 

The release and peace I felt sitting in my car was like nothing I had ever known. Though I attended church all throughout my childhood, I never felt like God was accessible. I didn’t know that He wanted to be in personal relationship with me. 

Jordan and I made a New Year’s Resolution in 2011 to go back to church. We began attending church at the Vineyard in Sullivan, Illinois. After attending our first service, we went out to dinner with my family for my mom’s birthday, and we were telling everyone about our experience, how we’d never been to a contemporary service before…and that we were for sure going back the next week. But there was this underlying feeling inside of me that something was different. 

I went home that Sunday and took a nap. (Duh. That’s what Sundays are for.) I woke up with this urging, this need to take another pregnancy test. Five minutes later…positive. The joy I felt that day in January 2011 gives me chills to this day. 

We were supposed to go to the Fertility Clinic two days later. That phone call was the most joyous cancelation phone call I’ve ever made in my life. 

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My first picture as a mother

Jackson Drake Lindenmeyer was born on September 20, 2011, all 10 pounds, 1 ounce of him. 

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Lindenmeyer, party of 3!

When we decided to add a second child to our family, I prayed again. This time, my prayer was different. I asked God to prepare my heart for what was to come, that emotional rollercoaster I once experienced before and had not fully healed from. 

Two months later, I became pregnant with our daughter, Johanna Drew Lindenmeyer, who was born on April 17, 2014…all 10 pounds, 9 ounces. 

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Lindenmeyer, party of 4!

I hope that by sharing my story, you find peace and comfort in the truth: God wants to perform miracles and give you the desires of your heart, if you are living in a season of uncertainty. Mamas, those of you reading my story…we are on the toughest journey of our lives, no doubt. But please don’t ever take that precious baby (or babies) you have for granted. Motherhood is a gift that is unfortunately not extended to all who want it. 

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On this Mother’s Day, when I give my kids a kiss upon their sweaty heads, I will say a prayer for the women still waiting patiently for the ultimate gift. I hope you do, too. 

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Your New Spring/Summer Go-To Outfit: Graphic Tank + Midi Skirt

When I find an outfit combo that is on repeat for me, I love sharing it with you. Think of it as one hot mess mom trying to help out another.

And a working hot mess mom at that. It’s the end of the school year for us teachers, and our patience for taxing tasks is like slim to none. That’s why “momiforms” are such an integral part of my wardrobe. I don’t want to think too much about getting dressed, but at the same time, I have a bad day when I don’t like my outfit. It’s quite the problem…

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Enter graphic tank/tee + midi skirt + mules combo. It’s the perfect dressy casual look that works for so many occasions.

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OLD NAVY tank, LULAROE Lola skirt, LUCKY BRAND mules, STELLA & DOT necklace

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To make the look even more casual, I may try knotting the tank. And seriously, an outfit combo that makes me feel like a million bucks AND is this comfy? Sign me up.

That One Time I Spent $119 on Pants

Guys, admittedly…most of my pants are cheap. Case in point: every single pair of jeans I have on heavy rotation cost me less than $40. And quite honestly, I’m not absolutely in love with any of them, but they do the job.

But recently, I have discovered Evereve (late to the party, I know…), and my opinions on pants have changed. I actually tried their Trendsend service recently, and if you follow me on Instagram, you saw through my stories what I was sent and what I ended up keeping. One such pair of pants were utility camo pants: the Sanctuary Pull On Trooper. I’ve linked them HERE. I’m a size six, and the medium is a great fit for me.

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I initially had sticker shock. Like what? $119? But as I get older, I realize there is so much value in investing in basics that you know you can style in multiple ways. The fit in these pants is amazing, and as I talked about on Instagram recently, my number one body insecurity is how big my legs are. These pants are actually quite flattering to my leg line and slim me out. SCORE.

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Here are some questions I ask myself before I invest in a piece for my wardrobe (jacket, pants, top, whatever):

  1. Can this piece work for nearly all occasions I could dress for? I could easily wear these pants for a casual look or dressed up for work. It’s all about styling and accessorizing. 
  2. Do I have pieces in my closet RIGHT NOW that I could pair with it to create at least three outfits? The answer for me was yes. As you see in this post, I styled them with a denim top, but a basic tee or graphic tee are other options. 
  3. Do I absolutely love the fit? Yes, I do. I loathe pants shopping, so that is why Trendsend appealed to me. I like how they’re both figure-flattering and slightly loose. 
  4. If I could find the cheaper version, would I be as excited about it? Am I truly gaining something by investing in quality? For me, I have never found a more budget-friendly utility pant option that was as flattering on me. Most of them cling to my thighs and no…just no. 
  5. Would I be sad if I did not purchase this piece? Oh yeah. You’ve got to snag those pants that make you feel like a million bucks. 

I find asking myself these questions has helped me really curate a wardrobe that works for me. I hope these questions will help you, too. All the best, dear friends!

The Closet Staple Most Everyone Needs

When I have downtime, my brain just CANNOT focus. I always tell myself now is the time to focus. But then I start thinking about every little question that has popped into my mind over the last three months. I wonder what personality type I am on the enneagram. How do I style that blazer? Is it time to get rid of that jacket? Ooh…that Tarte mermaid eyeshadow palette is so pretty. What should the kids and I do this summer? Should I give macro counting another go? And this is just like a 10-second snippet.

Obviously, I am living my best life on spring break right now…and that for me involves reading, writing, and online shopping in sweats, all while sitting by the fire. Spring seems to be fashionably late.

My spring break has freed up more time for me to write and to think about my personal style. Yes, I do think about style a lot, for many reasons: 1. I try to blog about it every so often when I can; 2. I do quite a bit of styling in my side gig; 3. Having a firm understanding of my personal style makes getting dressed a whole lot easier in the morning; and 4. Feeling good about what I’m wearing = confidence.

One aspect of my style I know to be tried and true is my love for jackets. I LOVE a structured jacket more than anyone you probably know. There is something about them that just works. But more specifically, blazers have actually caught my attention lately.

Blazers used to be synonymous with shoulder pads and ’80s for me. But blazers have come a long way, my friends. Get this: they can actually be really versatile and flattering.

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BLAZER: Free People, TEE: LuLaRoe Christy, NECKLACE: Stella & Dot Rebel Pendant, JEANS: Old Navy mid-rise Rockstar (unavailable online right now), BOOTIES: Target (old)

I recently bought two blazers on sale at Nordstrom, and my favorite of the two is this FREE PEOPLE UPTOWN GIRL BLAZER, pictured above. I am a major fan of a black blazer, too, but having more feminine options allows you to play with styling a bit more. To me, this blazer’s color (a dusty rose) makes it a great feminine option to add to your closet. I also like the menswear cut. It’s longer and covers my hip, which I really appreciate. I am a pear shape, and the longer length creates a more flattering silhouette, concealing my biggest problem area.

Adding a few blazers to your closet is not a bad idea. I love a blazer over a dress for a job interview. Teachers, that’s also a great look (blazer + dress) for supervising school dances. I also like to dress a blazer down by adding a graphic tee and jeans.

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In my look pictured above, I found a middle road for Easter Sunday…I added a gray LuLaRoe Christy Tee and black denim (Old Navy Rockstar…the perfect jeans for moms on a budget who still want to be cool). No Easter dress for this girl since it was FREEZING, and we got like 4 INCHES of SNOW that day.

Side note: Yes, this blazer is pricey. But it happened to be 30 percent off when I bought it, and honestly, when you see unique pieces that you love, it isn’t the worst thing to splurge every now and then. I fell in love with the colors, stripes, and cut of this one and knew I’d be disappointed if it went out of stock. It works for a few occasions I would need to dress for: job (I’m a high school English teacher), church, date night…and probably more I’m not thinking of right now.

So here’s your assignment: find a blazer that works for your body type and the occasions you need to dress for….before you get distracted. I know. That may be hard to do, but it’s worth a try.

Styling Your Black Leather Jacket for Spring: Just Add White

Leather jackets just feel right to me. They are thicker than most spring jackets, so in the Midwest, more warmth is a total win. I spend 95 percent of my life cold, so they work for me in that regard. I also love how they work for the edgier side of my style, but I try to avoid looking overly biker mama-ish. (So not a biker mama. I have two kids, I’m a teacher, I enjoy collecting pens, and I go to bed before 10…).

One way I like to style them for spring? With crisp white skinny jeans/pants and neutral booties. My first instinct is always to wear black booties, but if I’m looking for a lighter look, the taupe bootie balances out the edge of the jacket, making the look more seasonally appropriate.

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Here I’m wearing the newest leather jacket to my collection, which I snagged as part of my Trendsend box from Evereve. My top is a LuLaRoe Lynnae, which I’m wearing oversized (usually a size small, sized up to a medium). My jeans are Rockstars from Old Navy (I think they’re a few years old), and my booties are a new Target find. The Universal Thread brand at Target (these booties and another pair of shoes I snagged recently) has a Madewell/Lucky Brand vibe to me, and I’m really digging that bohemian/classic feel.

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Are you even a Mom blogger if you don’t torture your kids by taking so many pics?

Learning What Self-Care Actually Is…

Have you seen it? That post circulating through social media that tells women this truth: Self-care isn’t about manicures, pedicures, or shopping. What are your initial thoughts? Heck no. That’s how I relax! or… I see the truth in that?

Well, I was somewhere in the middle for awhile…until I found a true example of self-care that extended beyond a blissful hour of peace that a pedicure provides. I started reading again.

Nerd alert…I get it. But as an English teacher, I am so focused on reading for my job that I don’t read for my pleasure or betterment. I made it a goal of mine this year (as I have outlined in my #bestlifeby35 blog posts earlier this year…I have been trying to better myself in a myriad of ways as I prepare to turn 35 in July…EEEEEKKK) to read two books a month. And to some of you, that’s laughable because you read two books in like a week. But two books a month is doable in my current season.

I have focused on the personal development genre for most of my reading this year. At the end of 2017, I felt an overwhelming sense of my rhythms being off. The best way to describe it? I was constantly trying to walk in someone else’s cadence, and the more I tried to catch up and get into step, the more off kilter I became. And that (of course) is being very general, but let’s just say that a great number of aspects in my life needed reconfiguring. So therein lies the choice of reading books in the personal development genre.

So why is reading self-care? I have choice. I can pick to read any book I choose, any book that speaks to me. And let me tell you…teachers don’t always get choice in reading on the job, so it’s actually quite freeing! #englishteacherlife

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Late to the party on this one…but a good book, coffee, and peace is my new love language!

Reading is mine, my rhythm, my speed, my timing. The book is something that is always there for the taking when I am ready (and sometimes there may be a few days in between reads) that will better me when I pick it up.

Reading books written by authentic writers also grounds me in a sense of normalcy, that the feelings I’m feeling and the struggles I just can’t quite seem to overcome are not mine alone.

Lastly, I LOVE WORDS. I LOVE CONSTRUCTIONS AND COMPOSITIONS AND STYLE AND AUTHENTICITY. OK, yes, a little heavy on the caps there, but I crave the written word. I don’t always have the time to blog (though I would love to carve out more time to do so…something I’m working on), but it’s fairly simple to pick up a book and start reading while my kids are actually playing together and getting along or when my family falls asleep before I do.

So here are the books I have read thus far this year, along with a quick synopsis of my actual takeaway…not a summary per se but a “when I think of this book, this is what resonated” type of commentary.

January Reads: 

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Stronger than the Struggle by Havilah Cunnington — very real and practical description of how the enemy works in our lives; Havilah also outlines the necessity of spiritual warfare. It sounds really “gloom and doom,” but Havilah is so amazing and refreshing that it totally doesn’t read that way. It’s actually very empowering. Growing up in a traditional church, we never really talked about the enemy, so this book was a great way for me to learn more about this difficult topic.

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis — definitely a favorite of mine. We women believe so many lies about ourselves. Rachel confronts hers head-on at the start of each chapter and explains how that particular lie no longer has power over her. And I would venture to say most of you have believed almost all of the lies she outlines. This book (in my opinion) caters so well to the young-younger mom group.

February Reads:

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Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist – probably the most artistically driven in terms of the writing, Shauna explains how it took slowing down for her to find her peace. At times, the artistry of her writing (if I’m being honest) did not quite click or connect with me, but nevertheless, I appreciate her beautifully written message of centering and reprioritizing.

Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown – How has someone I’ve never even met taught me so much? Brene Brown is my teacher, and she doesn’t even know it. One thing I learned from this book is how to stand confidently in my values, morals, and basically how I’m wired and how I was created. She gave me courage to boldly stand alone when no one around me is doing life quite like me. A quick example I would like to touch upon further in a later blog post: I feel strong professional pull toward teaching and styling. I have often lamented that I wish God would point me in a direction toward one over the other. But what if the two pulls are part of how I was created? What if what I need is more courage instead of more clarity and a definitive answer?

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Grace, Not Perfection by Emily Ley

As a working mom, I find so much value in Emily’s authentic and inspirational tone. She outlines how she has learned how damaging and soul sucking perfectionism actually is, and she strives for a life of grace instead of perfection (as the title suggests…ha). Now I want a Simplified planner….

March Reads (well, currently reading):

A Simplified Life by Emily Ley

*Emily’s newest book offers practical tips for simplifying all aspects of life. One tip I especially loved is her tip on makeup (have a five- to ten-minute routine perfected for those crazy mornings) and hair, that she only fixes her hair a few times a week and has a few updos that she rotates through every week…GIRL, YES. I’ve been doing that for years, and I am a much happier person when I don’t put pressure on myself to fix my hair (for me, that’s straightening my lion’s mane) on the daily. Obviously, there are tips for simplifying other aspects of family life that are also very helpful and practical.

I would recommend all of these reads if you are looking to break the chains of perfectionism in your life. Even if you’re not a perfectionist per se, you may have perfectionist tendencies or feel a compelling need to reflect a semblance of perfection on social media. I know I for sure fall into that trap from time to time. But there is so much freedom in imperfection. I will keep updating you as my reading list grows! I would love to know your recommendations, too! Leave me a comment below and let me know what you’re reading!

One final thought…self care should recharge us, make us better equipped to fill the roles we have been called to fill. Is your self-care routine actually doing that?

The Dangers in Worshipping the Lack

When you hear or read the word worship, an experience or an image comes to mind. You’re singing in a church, you’re listening to praise music in your car on your drive to work, you’re fulfilling your God-directed calling with a happy heart, or you’re thanking God in prayer.

Can a person worship God and something else? God would say no: “No other gods, only me” (Exodus 20:3, MSG version). Most of us think we are in God’s good graces if we attend church on Sundays, pray for others, check off every box on our Christian to-do list. But is it possible to follow Jesus and worship something else?

Because I have. God revealed to me very clearly late last year that I worship my lack and have been doing so my entire life.

Here’s a quick run-down of what this worship has looked and sounded like:

Age 17: Why did you miss 2 points on this assignment? Why did you only score 15 points tonight?

Age 22: Why are you only earning this much of an income working this hard?

Age 27: Why can’t you get pregnant? What’s wrong with you?

Age 29: This house is way too small and is starting to get embarrassing. Better move to a wealthier neighborhood.

Age 34: You only made this much selling LuLaRoe this month? Maybe it’s time you give it up.

These are just a few of the lies I told myself. The irony in this post, though, is that I actually “bettered” myself and “fixed” all of those problems by striving, striving, striving. I kept telling myself that once this goal had been met, once I was no longer “without” in that specific area of life, that I would appreciate all that I had.

Not true.

It’s a really sad state to find yourself in, to always be wanting more. Oddly enough, though, I feel like our social system teaches us early on to go for more, go for broke, reach for the stars, insert any other goal-setting cliche. What can we teach our children, then, when they don’t achieve this or obtain that? I think that’s just as equally important of a lesson as goal setting is: gratitude and a shift in perspective. It’s certainly not wrong to strive for seemingly unachievable goals, but the crash and burn that results in expectations not being met is really destructive. We must teach (and implement) a quick rebound method (once a basketball player, always using basketball terminology).

I just recently finished Havilah Cunnington’s new book Stronger than the Struggle. (Stop what you’re doing right now and snag this book. A more comprehensive review coming later.) How glaring were her words on page 192: “We can spend our days focusing on our lack [emphasis added], the places that turned up empty. Or we can focus our full attention on celebrating our hard work and all God has done, coming to a place of celebration.”

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Once this obsession with my lack became so clear to me, I have started to see everything with a different lens. Instead of focusing on that one wall in our house that is still bare over a year later, I have started to appreciate the little corner I worked so hard on decorating and styling in our foyer. Instead of groaning about having to get up early every single day (wait…I still kinda do that…), I focus on how much I love my job. I truly do. When I’m feeling exasperated with my kids arguing over some snack or toy, I separate them, and it is in that moment where I can choose to look into their eyes and become so joyful that they’re happy and healthy. Well…maybe not happy in the moment, but you get what I mean. I literally cried the other night giving my kids a bath and then again when Daddy found their baby videos. Gosh, I’m so lucky to be their mom. And I’m certainly not perfect (though there were many years of my life where I wished that you would think I was), so this mindset shift isn’t always foolproof. But even if I’m thinking from a space of gratitude and positivity more often than not, I’m a heck of a lot happier than I was in years past.

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For too long, comparison has been my standard and my motivator. If comparison is your standard, you’re always going to be lacking. And if you’re always in the lacking mindset, you really and truly are hurting yourself and your relationships with the people who love you. Take it from me, the recovering perfectionist.