Happy 2018 friends!
Cannot believe how fast the holidays flew by...it always does but this year I really felt like I didn't have a handle on when Christmas was so it snuck up on me. Depending on what your jam is, I hope that your New Year celebration was full of sequin dresses and amazing bar service OR the coziest of sweatpants and some solid Netflix time. This year, I optioned for the latter. It was nice to not be fighting the crowds while nervously wondering just what the sticky-ness of my heels was. Oh, and not freezing because let's be real, rocking a dress when it's literally 5 degrees out is tough stuff.
I am not one to make a ton of resolutions but I have taken up reflection on the year that just past. It's humbling to think about what you learned and experiences you were able to have. Another practice I have started is focusing on what I was inspired by over the past 12 months. The people in my life always hold rank at the top of the list, but others emerge as well and I wanted to share some of them with you.
Hopefully this list of inspiration can do for you what it does for me...serve as a reminder to be grateful for each day, to find joy in the smallest and biggest victories, and to continue to reach for love every.single.time.
Work Ethic 101 y'all.
It probably seems like phoning it in to choose your husband as inspiration but it's the truest true there ever was. I think that more than ever this year I was able to hold a front row seat to his work ethic. This is something that I always admired about him, but really saw it stretched, developed, and pushed this year. I witnessed big wins and difficult days. But mostly...the work. 2 am on my laptop kind of work. Research on the weekends kind of work. Doing it to create a provide a service to this community kind of work. There are these moments in a marriage where you are able to stand in awe of the person that is next to you. Over and over I have found myself proud but not suprised by this sweet intellect of a man.
THIS IS ME
Love wins everytime.
It happened towards the very end of the year but I went with a friend to see The Greatest Showman. I expected to be entertained and to see Hugh Jackman in action (heyyy). But, I walked out with the most beautiful perspective on boldly taking claim to who you are. There's a moment in the movie where the people in the circus...these 'freak outcasts' are denied entrance to an event. They don't fit the mold of the upscale, elite attendees. Instead of backing down they burst on the scene while singing the song "This Is Me." It might sound trite, but I was so inspired by the simple lyrics. I think that it serves as a beautiful anthem for anyone who has ever felt less than, judged, insecure, or like they don't belong. It was a powerful reminder of the importance of gathering your broken parts and proudly showing the world YOU. Because you is pretty great.
"When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I'm gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I'm meant to be, this is me
Look out 'cause here I come
And I'm marching on to the beat I drum
I'm not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me..."
Oh you know, just changing the world.
My bestie Jill took a new job this past year as supervisor to a department she had been in for a long time. She is a social worker who has worked in both foster care and adoption at her organization. I still find myself shocked at times with the stories she has...how much pain some of these kids are facing and how she tries to mediate it in some way. She is the perfect person for this kind of work: patient, dedicated, and kind from her soul out. Her heart was made for these kids which is why she is able to hang in even when the days are anything but rosy. Jill has handled responsibilities at her job that most will never have to face and I couldn't be more proud. It's often a thankless role that requires so much of a person's energy emotionally and physically. To watch her successfully work through what that looks like inspires me daily. Here's to you Jillyboo...and all the ways you continue to make positive change in our community.
Courage, dear heart.
My dear friend Marlin has often inspired me over the years. An individual who grew up in a tough part of Chicago but boldly paved his own way. He is a strong, African-American male who holds that title strong and gives back to the communities that formed him. A loyal friend, family member, and worker who cares deeply about the world around him. Easily one of the funniest people I know, he has always brought such joy to my spirit in the most comedic and sincere ways. Like I said, he's often inspired me, but this year those words took new life: Marlin started a blog! He is an honest and beautiful writer that has blessed me with his poignant thoughts on life. I think I like reading his blog because it's like I am getting some of him...reflective, humorous, and unapologetically raw. He recently shared a post about some of the struggles that he has faced wrestling with his own identity. He shared his story of pain and how that pain caused him to attempt taking his own life during college. I had tears streaming down my face as I read about the hurt my dear friend and brother had silently endured. I was and still deeply inspired by his courage.
Their concert=still blowing my mind.
I wrote another blog post about the NEEDTOBREATHE concert we went to earlier this year. It was in-sane. Why they make my inspiration list of 2017 is not just because of that concert, but their album Hard Love in general. It has been on repeat in my car (literally if you ever ride with me you get to choose from like 3 albums) and the words keep invading my heart in the best way.
Give me your heart give me your song
Sing it with all your might
Come to the fountain and
You can be satisfied
There is a peace, there is a love
You can get lost inside
Come to the fountain and
Let me hear you testify...
The sweetest soul.
2017 introduced me to Kristin and I couldn't be more grateful. I am always inspired by her sweet spirit and the gracious way she approaches life. I love that her passion for women and community created a space for those things to thrive with the Empowered Babes group. During meet-ups I watched strangers become friends that connected and shared life with each other. It was amazing to watch her heart living and breathing through an event. My heart broke with hers as she tearfully shared her miscarriage this past summer. It's tough in those moments to find words to say that will bridge the gap of grief, but her resilience and authenticity were beyond beautiful. I like how there are moments in friendships where you are reminded of the strength of a person even when they are unaware they are showcasing it. This was one of those times. I couldn't have been more inspired by her willingness to share her story with the hope it would reach someone who needed to hear it. Even in the face of her own pain: still thinking of how she could positively change the world, still searching for purpose in her heartbreak, still Kristin...the sweetest soul.
A must see documentary.
This documentary came out in 2016 but I watched it last year. It examines the issue of race and the epidemic of mass incarceration in the United States. It unearths how injustice, corporate greed, and politics have all played starring roles in this growing issue. Regardless of your stance when it comes politics, it was a intriguing look at how vast a lot of these newsworthy topics go and how they connect back with the human experience.
ABBY + OTTO
The importance of being brave and believing in miracles.
Over the past year, I have had the privilege of hearing and reading about a little guy named Otto. This little fighter has been the subject of many prayers in our house along with his parents. His mom is Abby, is a blogger and all around bad-ass (speaking of, that's her house on the cover of Country Living in my picture. YEP). Equal parts cool, eclectic, and hilarious, she is an inspirational woman in her own right. But, watching her share her journey with her son gave me new perspective this past year. Otto was born with a heart condition and had to undergo surgery at just a few months old. Before that and afterwards, Abby has shared daily updates, pictures of this cutie, and her struggles with worry for the future. I have been so inspired how she continues to revel in the sweet moments and lean on God in the darkest ones. It's been humbling to hear her honestly share her pain while maintaining that God is working through this and has placed divine purpose in Otto's existence. It has been a needed reminder for me to continue to approach each day with eyes that are directed upwards (where does my help come from?)
I am so inspired by each and everyone of you. When I started this blog at the beginning of last year, I never could have imagined the individuals that it would bring into my life. Friends that inspire me daily to be more thoughtful, creative, passionate. Thank you for sharing your lives with me in my little corner of the world. I love hearing your stories and finding commonality in our experiences or struggles. There have been so many that gave me the kind nudges that I needed.
This entire blog was brought to life after seeing a stranger's post about your soul telling you to begin (so I did). Said stranger is now one of my best friends so what kind of kismet is that?! So, if you need some kind of sign or push here it is: whatever you are pursuing or dreaming about in 2018, do it. You are loved, talented, and enough...so go, do.
Thank you for reading my letters to the world. I am endlessly grateful. Bring it on 2018.