purpose over pride

Sweet Surrender

I've spent the past two days comforted by Kleenex, green tea, Netflix, and one snuggly Scottie dog named Monty, and I've officially become one with the couch. The dreaded winter cold has caught up with me and forced me to surrender my plans for a productive close to the week.

Just a couple of weeks ago in the midst of goal setting, the very word I chose for 2015 was SURRENDER, and boy, did I get what I asked for! In these past 48 hours, I've been forced to give up even the little things I felt like I had control of - my morning Pilates class, appointments scheduled weeks in advance, finishing my taxes, updating my website... the list goes on. In the bigger picture, I'm in the midst of a season of unknowns. Life feels like it's being flipped upside down, so I'm gripping onto anything that still feels within my control. 

Can you relate?

We create awesome plans for the future so that everything unfolds just right. Plans to live in the perfect place and have the perfect business and make lots of perfectly green money and marry the perfect person who agrees with everything we say and have perfect kids born at perfectly convenient times. One year plans... five year plans... ten year plans... we've got 'em. We fight tooth and nail to cling to that vision of perfection. We stress ourselves out, stretch ourselves thin, run to every remedy on the market...

...we work longer hours...

...we read more self-help books...

...we escape to mind-numbing places like Facebook and iPhones...

All for the sake of seeking happiness. Seeking contentment. Seeking answers. 

We run to everything and everyone except the source of those things.

Not that books and hard work aren't great tools that can help us, but they're just tools, not the answer. The truth is - the best things in my life have arrived in the times I've surrendered. When I've given up on worry and given in to prayer and confidence in a plan for my future so much better than the one I've laid out for myself, that's when I can truly experience peace where I am and hope in where I'm headed. Coincidentally, those moments of surrender have typically been the times when I've experienced life's greatest surprises.

I know better than anyone that surrender isn't easy... it's messy and it's ugly and it's a constant struggle. It requires letting go of plans and pride and making yourself vulnerable. But I also know that it's worth it. So this year, starting now, instead of sulking over changed plans, I'm choosing to embrace the moment, look forward to new adventures - whatever they may be, and be grateful for it all.

Related: My 2014 Word

Pride Isn't Always Wicked

Last week, my sweet husband took me to see the musical Wicked for my birthday. (NOTE: this may be the nerdiest week ever on the blog… first, The Hobbit and now, musical theatre. I’d love to promise it won’t happen again, but I’d probably be lying.) As I sat there, completely fan-girling (is that a verb?) over the elaborate sets and the music... it's time to tryyy defyyying gravityyyy... and the incredible, incredible performances, I couldn’t help but let my mind wander to the real people underneath the whole production. The people, just like you and I, who are below all the makeup and costumes and stage lights. And I must admit, I got a little emotional thinking about the journey they may have taken to end up on that stage.

It likely all began with a big, seemingly unlikely dream – a little girl twirling around in a tutu singing along to a Disney movie...

Me, circa 1997, for the Laurel Ballet School's performance of  Sleeping Beauty.  

Me, circa 1997, for the Laurel Ballet School's performance of Sleeping Beauty. 

As that little girl grew up, she probably accumulated some cheerleaders – people telling her that she could accomplish anything she set her mind to. I’m sure she had a few negative voices in the mix – agents telling her she wasn’t pretty enough or teachers telling her she didn’t have what it takes - but she pushed those voices aside, gathered an insane amount of courage, and auditioned for the role of a lifetime. And she achieved what seemed like a one-in-a-million chance – she got the part.

Even just writing that imaginary story makes me a little teary (don’t worry… I know I’m a little bit crazy… I also cried during a speech by an actress I’ve never even heard of watching the Golden Globes last weekend). I can’t help but be excited – like jumping-up-and-down-acting-full-on-mental – to see others achieving their goals. Imagining the pride and gratitude they must feel to live out their fairytale each and every night... I’ve been there – well not there… I promise you don’t want to hear me sing – but there, having accomplished something that once felt so far away. I was so proud of these people I don’t even know!

And then, I let my mind wander to the aftermath...

Once they finish this tour, will they forget how far they’ve come?

Will they forget what it felt like to accomplish this lifelong dream?

Will they move on so quickly to wanting something else – something bigger and better?

We live in a world where contentment seems nearly impossible. We’ve trained ourselves to always be wanting, instead of resting in gratitude and a sense of accomplishment for even a moment. We may even feel guilty for the opportunities we’ve been given or for being proud of ourselves. We let the fear of not getting the next thing we want paralyze us with anxiety. We let tomorrow's concerns rob us of today's joy.

Imagine the excitement that little girl with a dream would have felt to see the grown up version of herself. Why not let her twirl and skip with an ear-to-ear smile on her face for just a minute?!

I know some people say don’t look back, but sometimes, just a moment of reflection can give us the perspective to enjoy the here and now and the courage we need to take the next step… again.

Happy Monday, friends! Make it a great week!

Holiday Gift Guide | The Giving Series

Where has this year gone?! It seems like it was just summer, and now, Christmas is just a couple of weeks away. In the spirit of the season, over the next few weeks, Miranda and I will be doing a blog series on giving. Today, we're kicking it off with the most obvious way of giving - the kind of gifts that end up under the Christmas tree.

If you're like me and a bit of a procrastinator, you're still working on whittling down that shopping list. The older I get, the more gift giving becomes about the thoughtfulness of the present, no matter how big or small. In the chaos of the holiday season, it can be difficult to find the perfect gift, especially on a budget (hello financial freedom voices in my head telling me not to spend $$$). That's why I've put together a holiday gift guide of some of my favorite things to give and receive for under $30 (plus a little giveaway!):

  1. For the entrepreneur going in 15 different directions: Passion Planner ($25)
    Give a friend something to look forward to with this planner shipping in January 2015. Young designer Angelia Trinidad has created a place to keep track of your weekly schedule, while also providing tools to live your days with intention. Complete with a goal setting guide, motivational quotes, and a designated area for positive thoughts, it doesn't get any better than this.
  2. For the homeowner with a few empty walls: True Cotton prints via Etsy ($15 for 8x10)
    I am so obsessed with these local North Carolina made prints that I gifted them to my wedding clients this year, and I pretty much want to buy the entire store. Arin's watercolor quote prints are the perfect gift to pop into a frame and give to someone who could use a little dose of daily positivity. In fact, I love this print so much, that I'm giving one away! See details below.
  3. For the young reader who loves a good adventure: The Little Prince ($10 - paperback)
    "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
    Y'all - this is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE books. Adapted from the French tale by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, this book is filled with nuggets of wisdom on love and life, for both older children and kids-at-heart.
  4. For the lifelong learner with no time to read: The Gifts of Imperfection ($9 on MP3 CD)
    According to my fellow featured contributor Miranda, this book by Dr. Brene Brown is a must read. Brown inspires readers (or listeners) to love ourselves just as we are. What better way to spend the daily commute than with a little pep talk?
  5. For the brother or sister with the epic t-shirt collection: Sevenly tees ($24+)
    Not only are these some of the most comfortable shirts on the planet, but they're also for a good cause. Each week features new designs to support a specific charity - such as this week's campaign for Girl Up, funding bicycles for girls in Malawi so they can get to school safely. For each item purchased, $7 benefits the featured charity of the week.
  6. For your friend who never takes time for herself: Paris Tea and an ABD mug ($30)
    Nothing motivates me to curl up on the couch under my Pottery Barn blanket and just relax like a good mug o' tea. These tea sachets by Harney & Sons are my favorite - they make your tea seem so fancy, and I just love a great mug, like this motivational one by Ashley Brooke Designs.
  7. For the sleep-deprived, love-filled new momma: Lara Casey's Life Handbook ($16)
    I can't imagine giving an adult child anything more thoughtful than this treasure. The Life Handbook provides places to write advice for your child, letters to them for specific occasions (such as a graduation or wedding), and little tips for navigating life.

To enter the giveaway, simply comment below (or on Facebook or Instagram) with the most thoughtful gift you've ever given or received. Entries must be received by 11 p.m. EST on Sunday, December 14, 2014. The winner will receive a 5x7 gratitude print by True Cotton!