I have been finding SO much inspiration in the art I’ve seen from talented artists on my radar lately, and wanted to share the goodness and beauty with all of you!
There is so much to adore about this city in the heart of Virginia-- from the food, the art, the coffee and beer and cider, the endless festivals, the outdoor options, the tattoos... it's a hipster heaven.
Last summer, I started my first bullet journal. I fell in love. Then, I filled it up. I went a month without one, but now, I'm back with round two, better than ever. Here's a peek inside!
A day in Washington, D.C. spent marveling at incredible art, catching up with a sweet friend, and devouring vegan tacos is a day WELL spent. Here's a quick recap!
Here's the thing about writing: it's hard. It's the thing that makes me feel alive and like I'm doing what I was created to do, but it's also the thing that is a struggle full of resistance and excuses. I pour words onto the pages of my journal, but then stare at a blank screen and feel stuck. It's one thing to put my words down for my eyes only, and another thing altogether to hit publish and let them fly.
Here's the thing about writing: it's worth it. The hard posts, the ones that stay in the drafts for months too long, the ones that come with tears or shaking hands, they're worth it. They're the raw words, the ones that are real in the deepest and richest of ways, and they matter. I read words like that from writers I love and from strangers I've just stumbled upon, and my heart soars. Transparency is beautiful. Sharing struggles and successes and stories is essential-- we are all human, all struggling, all fighting through the days and trying to be brave, and when we can read words that remind us we're not alone, it's helpful. It's encouraging. It's uplifting. It's worth it.
Here's the thing about writing: it's a gift. I forget that a lot. It's a freedom to be able to share my words freely and send them out to anyone listening around the whole wide world. Not everyone has that freedom. I so often feel a pressure to publish, a pressure to be perfect, a pressure to have things figured out before I write them down...but it's a gift to write. Not pressure. Not a burden. When I see it that way, when I remember to be grateful for the chance to share and spill and journey through things with my words, it's a joy and a gift to do so.
Here's the thing about writing: you just have to do it. Inspiration may strike, or it may not. You may feel tired and exhausted and worn out and just not ready. You may not think you have anything to say. You may feel like you're not worthy to be a writer or you don't have the authority to speak into something. Just do it. Just write. Just put pen on paper and letters on the screen and do the work of it. Maybe in the end, it's not meant for the world. Okay. That's fine. You wrote anyway. You did the work. You pushed through and made something come to life, even if that something isn't polished or pretty or put together. It doesn't need to be. You just need to do it. And do it again. And keep doing it. When it's easy, when it's hard, when you're excited about it and when you feel anxious, when it's sunny outside and when it's storming, when you feel alone or when you feel wrapped up in love, when you've been learning a lot or when you're going through a dry spell, just keep doing it. Keep writing. Keep working. Keep journeying and writing it all down and seeing what happens.
Here's the thing about writing:
Earlier this week, my awesome friends Tyler and Ashley Herrinton asked if I would be interested in going to the Caps/Rangers game in DC on Wednesday evening. Of course I jumped at the chance and said yes immediately! I got off of work and asked around to find friends who were free, and we decided to make a day of it.
We left Richmond around 2 pm and literally hit NO traffic on the way...unheard of. We decided to wander around the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum for a while (one of my favorite places in DC by far). I had visited there a few years ago with my friend Griffin Harrington who took an awesome picture of me in front of a neon installation, which we took another picture of this time around-- Inception-style.
We had dinner and drinks at a fun little restaurant called Matchbox before heading to the Verizon Center. Our seats were unreal-- right on the red line, ten rows up. INCREDIBLE. Being there for a big rivalry game was a blast! Unfortunately, we lost 3-1...but it was so much fun regardless of the outcome.
Spontaneous adventures are the best adventures-- it was 12 hours well spent with awesome friends!
Yesterday, the sun finally broke through what had been a week of gray skies and ice and (unnecessary) snow days. Since one of my #RAD52in52 goals is to visit 10 new Richmond coffeeshops, I set out to find one where I could spend my morning. I visited good old Yelp and found Black Hand Coffee Company which was near where I would be picking up the kiddos I nanny, so I decided that would be my spot for the day.
It was an unassuming little corner coffeeshop tucked away in the downtown Museum District with just a few tables inside, but I loved it. I ordered a dirty Chai (the Yelp reviews sold me on their Chai!)-- my first "dirty" Chai ever (they add a shot of espresso)...so good. It was such a relaxing morning in a great new little spot. They even had a free little library box outside where I picked up a new book to try (but I'm a few chapters in and not liking it all...so that might be a flop).
I continued my solo morning at my favorite Richmond vegetarian restaurant where I got the BEST vegan "chicken salad" wrap (gluten-free too!) with mustard potato salad...to die for. All in all, it was the perfect Friday morning and everything I needed after a gloomy and draining week. Here are some snapshots from the morning.
Winter seemed to come out of nowhere this weekend. I was loving autumn, soaking every bit of the cool and breezy temperatures, admiring every fiery tree and fallen leaf...and then it was 30 degrees and I was freezing. I'm not a fan. Saying farewell to the outdoor adventures of summer and fall is bittersweet, but this weekend was still full of exploring.
If you haven't met her yet, the pup is our miniature schnauzer, Uli. She's sweet and sassy and I've trained her to hold my hand (aka the cutest trick ever). I ventured to the VMFA with one of my best friends for the Forbidden exhibit (we concluded it was a good thing to expose ourselves to things from different cultures, and we should do it more often, but neither of us were overly enthused by the whole show) and to just wander around both inside and outside in the gardens that I've never seen before. On my way home, I decided to stop in a little local grocery shop I had seen on Instagram, and I promptly fell in love with how cute and quaint it was. The prices weren't as fun (sorry, but I'm not spending $9 for a bag of granola), but it was definitely picturesque and full of treasures!
Yes, it's cold. Winter is here. But adventures can still be had. Thankful for this fun weekend.
It's Friday. Can I get a big, loud HALLELUJAH? What a week it's been. I've been all over the place this week, getting home just when it's time to fall into bed, working long hours, spending time with awesome people every evening. My thoughts are all over the place too, but here are some things that have been meaningful to me this week. Happy Friday, friends!
You can feel bad about yourself and the fact that you've been slacking on the gym lately, or you can suck it up and go back and get to work. I tweeted this on Monday as I was cranking out 6 miles on the bike with a very angry knee. I'm not sure why I think there will be a huge flashing sign on my forehead announcing to all other gym-goers that "I HAVEN'T BEEN HERE IN A WHILE"...but that's really what I think. Monday, I mustered up every ounce of discipline I could find and made myself go. And it was so worth it. My muscles have been reminding me all week how worth it it was. So stop feeling bad, stop beating yourself up, stop thinking everyone will judge you for skipping a few days, and just go back. Get to it. (This is me trying to motivate myself, but hey, if it helps you too, awesome.)
Gather with old friends and new ones and soak up the goodness of being together. My small group had a cookout on Tuesday after weeks of not seeing each other, and it was so good. I love being with those people, and I loved having new faces around the circle, too. It was simple and sweet and quintessentially summer-- burgers on the grill, games of cornhole, cold ciders and beers and great conversations on the patio. There doesn't need to be an elaborate plan or menu or anything, just being together and letting the night roll on is enough. Those things fill you up.
Creativity comes best in community. Several meetings at work this week were about creative projects, and the ideas that came out of those brainstorm sessions were awesome, bold, innovative. I was reminded that sometimes the best ideas come out of teamwork. One mind is great, but a group of minds is powerful. Each voice and perspective pushed our idea to a better place, a stronger place. It reminded me that the best art isn't created in isolation. We need each other.
Encouragement comes in all kinds. Texts from friends who have believed in you for years, encouraging you to do the hard things and letting you know it's worth it and sharing with you how excited they are for what's ahead. Emails from strangers around the world, filling your heart with the assurance that God is at work in the midst of all the words and the blog posts. Conversations outside of Dairy Queen as part of HOPE's young adult gathering, people asking simply "how's the blogging?" I'm so deeply grateful for every bit of it all.
This medley. Just listen. I've gushed about JOHNNYSWIM before, and I'll gush again-- they're that good. I'm a sucker for a killer mash-up. I love when unique things blend together in a new way to make something better than any part had been alone. This song is the epitome of that, and it's been on repeat all week.
I hope your weekend holds new adventures, times to rest, fun with people you love, and bits of the best parts of summer. What's been meaningful to you this week? I would love to hear!
Have you ever watched an artist work? Stood still, captivated by their movements, seeing the brush held confidently in their hand dip into the paint and then glide along the canvas almost effortlessly? It seems fluid and graceful, like the brain and hand are in perfect synchrony as the art comes to life.
Last fall, I was still recovering from knee surgery when a street art festival took place at the Carytown Bus Depot downtown. Still shaky on my feet and learning to walk again with this altered knee, I went to see the murals.
As I entered, I saw a man painting. He was working on a stretch of wall outside of the main area, on a side street with little traffic and few passersby. I stopped and watched him work for a few moments. He wasn't being showy or dramatic or drawing any attention to himself, he was just quietly at work on a stretch of coated brick on a design I couldn't quite make out yet.
Thinking back on how he created his art, I remember little things: slow, steady, moving and adjusting and improvising, skilled, constant.
The more I've been shaping my project of seeking and sharing stories, the more I've been embracing thinking of God as Artist and Author. I'm seeing Him at work in the stories I've heard, even just the few so far: slow, steady, moving, adjusting, improvising, skilled, constant. They haven't been stories of divine, radical, earth-shattering moments, but rather of an ongoing journey of grace and learning. I've seen God like that street artist, doing His work and designing His art in quiet ways, not demanding attention, but gracefully bringing beauty to life where there once was just a dirty space.
The design doesn't always make sense as it's being worked on. It isn't always obvious what the final product will look like. I'm learning that's the best part of it all, the trusting in the process, trusting in the hand that holds us, trusting that the things that are worth it take time and patience and a willingness to adapt.
I'm learning that my story is never finished, that there will never be a time when the Artist gives up and walks away. I'm learning that grace is abundant, that mercy has been given to me, that love says "you're worth working on, the best is yet to come."
I'm still learning to walk, but now it's more learning to walk in steady step with my Savior. I'm seeing the beauty in every story, the signature of the Artist stamped on every life, the brushstrokes of grace in every piece of heartbreak and renewal.
What an Artist. What an Author.
From far away, it's a masterpiece. From this view, this perspective, it's beautiful in every way. A glorious picture, a marvelous story. The closer I get to it, the more detail I see. The intricacy of this work of art is exquisite. Some places have huge gobs of paint where it took extra layers to get the final color just right. Some places are worn thin, like time stripped away part of the original design. The brush strokes of the artist are all over this canvas. On this one in particular, I can recognize the artist by his signature in the corner-- not bold or boasting, but there, a quiet reminder of where credit is due. It's telling a different story from this up-close angle-- now I'm getting personal. I'm seeing the scratches in the surface, noticing ragged edges and uneven lines. When I take a few steps back, it all fades to that masterpiece again. I appreciate it more now that I got all up in it. I know it's not perfect, but that's what makes it so remarkable. That's what gives it true character, makes it unique. If it were perfect, I wouldn't relate so well. I have places in my life where layer upon layer have been piled on, just trying to achieve the final goal, make things look and feel just right. There are places that have been worn thin, places where time stripped a part of me away. The brush strokes of the Creator are all over my life like that canvas. His signature is there, not yelling and demanding fame, just quietly waiting, knowing the credit and all the glory are His.
Come on now, get up close. Come on in to my life. See the scratches, the scars, the rough edges. See that I'm just a canvas at the hands of my Creator.