Today is my birthday (HEY HEY!) and like in year’s past, it’s a day that I love celebrating and love to prepare for by reflecting on the past 365 days.
In this season of depression, I need to fight to find the good and practice gratitude. Here are 11 of the best things about life right now, even in a hard season.
Making // plans for a two-week cross-country road trip with Dad for August, and I am SO EXCITED. One of my goals for this year was to visit two new states, and this trip will cross five off of my list!
Cooking // tacos. All the tacos. All the time.
Drinking // French press coffee (the best coffee)
Playing // the app WordBrain -- it's addicting and so fun (and frustrating!)
Enjoying // all the goodies from my third Causebox from Sevenly-- so many fun things this time!
Wondering // which of the apartments I'm checking out with a friend today will be the favorite...
Pondering // all the incredible conversations I've had in the last week with friends and family, and trying to get everything written down before I forget. So much verbal processing happened and that's not my norm, but it opened my eyes and heart to SO MANY NEW THINGS and I'm so grateful.
Watching // Friday Night Lights on Netflix all over again from the beginning. Because Texas Forever. Clear eyes, full heart, can't lose.
Hoping // this Sunday's Color Me Mad 5K is as fun as they seem to be! Let's hope my knee holds out okay and I make it through the finish line without having to crawl!
Marveling // at the simple beauty of hydrangeas (thanks, TJ!)
Needing // to get back into my morning yoga routine...my muscles hurt and it's not going to be pretty.
Smelling // a sweet honeysuckle candle burning... smells like summer and I love it.
Wearing // lots and lots and lots of neutrals. and lots of Madewell.
Noticing // keeping healthy snacks on my desk means I'll be more mindful in my snacking. Almonds and apples are my current go-to choices!
Thinking // a lot about what family looks like and how we do family well... this post from Ann Voskamp is one I know I'll keep reading over and over.
Admiring // the newest Darling Magazine... beautiful.
Sorting // through my closet, getting rid of things that aren't my style any more or that don't fit or that I don't love...because I'm learning that I'm an over-buyer and I want to try to simplify even though it isn't my nature.
Buying // a curling wand! When we were in Texas, we took new head shots, and a new friend kindly took pity on my mess of hair and curled it...I was sold instantly. So quick! So beautiful!
Getting // TONS AND TONS of bug bites already this summer...so I finally bought essential oils that are good for repelling those little guys so I can hopefully not get eaten alive anymore!
Disliking // humidity. Go away.
Opening // a new journal is like opening a door to a whole new world. That first crack of the spine, the sweet smell of new paper, the blank space just waiting to be filled...it's an experience and I love it.
Feeling // heartbroken by the Charleston shooting and devastated by the loss of nine beautiful lives. It's easier to try to tune out the news and avoid reading the articles about the tragic current events in the world around me, but this time, I didn't let myself do that. I read the articles. I watched the news. I read the tweets and the posts and the commentaries. I wept. Really and truly, I cried like I haven't cried in a long time, praying out loud to a God I know is weeping too at such a loss. May I love like Jesus-- regardless of any color, any sin, any lifestyle, any culture, or any difference at al. May I be aware of and broken by injustice, by violence, by cruelty, by racism, by prejudice, by slavery, by all that is wrong in our world. May I never stay silent when the Lord is calling me to speak, may I never turn away and pretend I don't see, may I never feign ignorance. May Your kingdom come. May Your peace comfort. May Your love heal. May Your people be Your hands and feet. May Your light shine in darkness.
Every now and then, I find that there are so many things I just want everyone to know about and love like I do. I've shared posts like this before and they're always one of my favorites, and it's been a while since the last one!
So, let's go (roughly) clockwise around this picture starting at the top and check out what I'm loving lately!
Fresh flowers -- because I'm a big believer in always having flowers on the table or in my room. Life is better that way. I could do without the ants that are OBSESSED with living on these peonies though...
Essential oils -- yep, I jumped on the bandwagon. (edited in 2019 to add — these cheap oils were exactly that… cheap. I’ve since purchased Young Living oils and will never go back.)
Necklaces with the letter "R" -- because although I hate monograms, I love my initials! One family I babysit for gave me the gorgeous Kate Spade circle necklace with the "R" engraved, and I absolutely love it. The other one I picked up recently at Quirk Gallery downtown during First Fridays and it's been a daily favorite.
The Scribble Diary and 1 Page at a Time- A Daily Creative Companion -- because some days, having a page full of creative little prompts to get my pen moving and thoughts flowing is exactly what I need. Both of these little books are fun, quirky, easy to do, and a great little jumpstart to creativity.
Sparkling water -- because as a girl who doesn't drink soda and tries to avoid super sugary juice (but still loves it), this is a good substitute. I found raspberry lime flavor and it has the best hint of flavor with all the fun of bubbly carbonation. It's a nice mix-up from my usual big mason jar of ice water!
My new index card quote organization system -- I ALWAYS underline and highlight quotes in books I love, and never remember them after the fact. I found myself constantly wishing I could just command+F through my bookshelf to find quotes to add to blog posts or my journals, and this is the next best thing! I got these little index card cases with dividers at Target, made some more dividers with index cards and sticky tabs, and wrote key words on them all. I've been going through my bookshelf, writing down quotes, and filing them under key words, and I think it will be great resource! Plus, I just love writing on index cards for some reason.
Homegrown kale from our backyard garden -- because everything tastes better when you know just where it came from and just whose hands touched it before yours. We built two huge gardens (with a fence around to keep the critters out, HAHA squirrels!) and have already been enjoying SO MANY greens, with so many other veggies coming soon!
This to-do list -- because it's Rifle Paper Company (and they can do no wrong) and it was the sweetest birthday gift from a dear friend! I love making lists, and they're even better when they're on cute paper.
This "Windows Down" playlist -- because 80 degree sunshine calls for good tunes and windows down cruising around town.
This popcorn -- because YUM. I love popcorn of all kinds, and these Boom Chicka Bites called "Sweet & Salty Nut" are the best Cracker Jack-ish treat! They have cashews, almonds and peanuts in clusters with the best ancient grain popcorn, and they're addicting. I won't say I ate them all in one day...but I might have.
This shampoo and conditioner -- because 1. it's at Target (the best store), 2. it's sulfate and paraben-free (good stuff, even though I'm not 100% sure what that means), 3. each bottle bought provides a month's supply of clean water to a community in need (COME ON, that's awesome), 4. it smells heavenly and wonderful, 5. it makes my hair feel awesome. SO MANY WINS.
What are you loving lately? Anything I MUST check out? Let me know!
Maybe we're friends in real life, or maybe we've never met, and maybe this is your very first time on my little corner of the Internet! One of my favorite things to find on bloggers' sites is lists of things you never knew about them, and I decided it was a fine time to share one of my own as a way of celebrating my birthday (YAY)!
Enjoy these (very random) facts that you probably never knew about me...
- I was born in Maryland and lived there for five years before becoming an Arizona girl! I will always call AZ home, though, because when you live somewhere from kindergarten through high school, it undeniably becomes home. I firmly believe the West Coast is the best coast.
- I've never broken a bone, but I have had 4 major knee surgeries, my appendix taken out (in Costa Rica on a mission trip...it's one of my most exciting stories to tell at parties) and my wisdom teeth out (with no funny video footage--bummer).
- When I was little, I was obsessed with creating families and writing stories about them. I would make whole profiles of each person with all of their favorite things and likes/dislikes, and then would write little stories about them all. I guess I've always had writing in my blood...
- I'm a hardcore introvert (INFJ through and through) but people who first meet me never think I'm introverted! I guess I fake it well when necessary!
- I'm 5'3" which is conveniently my birthday (May 3rd) and also makes me 6+ inches shorter than my mom, dad and "little" brother.
- My eyes are green, my birthstone is emerald, and my favorite color is green. I loved that Pantone's color of the year for 2014 was emerald-- it was everywhere and it was awesome! I use that exact shade in my logo and around my website.
- I don't like chocolate (never really have and especially not now that I'm vegan and can't eat a lot of it) but I LOVE fruity candy-- orange is my favorite flavor by FAR. Sour Patch Kids, Nerds, Skittles, Sweetarts, Sprees...it's my weakness. I would almost always choose candy over baked goods or any other kind of dessert, except maybe fro-yo (fruity sorbet topped with berries and nerds is my go-to)!
- My eyesight is technically perfect according to my eye doctor, but since I get awful headaches and migraines like ALL THE TIME, I wear glasses when I read or look at my computer screen! It makes a huge difference. Plus, I feel cooler and more studious when I wear them, so it's really a win-win.
- I watched the documentary Food, Inc. when I was a senior in high school, and I quit eating all meat cold turkey (pun totally intended) right after! I've been a vegetarian now since June 5, 2010. The beginning of my last year at JMU, I got really sick for a few weeks after coming back from a summer in London, and after seeing my doctor, realized I was allergic to wheat. Thanks to my body being super weird, I also couldn't handle eating any dairy anymore, so out of nowhere I became gluten-free and vegan in one fell swoop! I do cheat occasionally and eat some seafood and eggs, but overall I love it even though it makes life way more complicated.
- I've traveled to Mexico, Canada, France, Costa Rica, England and Scotland-- I can't wait to see which country I get to go to next.
- One of my favorite childhood travel experiences was a six-week sabbatical road trip my family took the summer before I went into 7th grade. We left from Arizona (with our mini-van packed to the brim with everything we would need for the whole summer) and journeyed up through California, into Oregon, to Washington where we embarked on a week-long Alaskan cruise, then up into Canada, and then back down through Montana, Wyoming, the corner of Idaho, Utah, Four Corners, then back home to AZ. We hit quite a few National Parks and many other incredible sights along the way, and I'm so glad it was before we had cell phones or iPods or DVDs in our car to distract us-- it was a trip of a lifetime and I'll never forget it!
- My family has a miniature schnauzer that I named Uli (after a German woman on Project Runway the summer that we got her)-- she's adorable.
- I was on the newspaper staff in high school, and was co-editor in chief my senior year. We redesigned the paper into a newsmagazine that won some awards-- I loved that class and being part of all of it.
- We didn't have cable until I was in high school. I joke that I was a super sheltered kid (I mean, I only watched Arthur and ZOOM, and my boy band of choice was Plus One because I had no clue who the Backstreet Boys or NSYNC were...) but I'm so grateful for it in hindsight.
- I passed out on a sunrise hot air balloon ride in Sedona, AZ once...
- I have to keep my nails painted or I'll bite them. Bad habits die hard.
- I could never do a cartwheel or a handstand or the splits, and always wanted to be able to. Maybe someday...
- I've never seen the Harry Potter movies. I know, I know. Everyone I tell freaks out. It's just one of those things, though. Just not interested.
- I HATED living in VA the first few years I was here (also because high school was hellish, but that's a whole different story) but I have completely fallen in love with Richmond since moving back after graduation. I love this River City.
- My favorite sport is hockey, by far. I went to quite a few Phoenix Coyotes games growing up, but became a huge Washington Capitals fan in high school thanks to my then-boyfriend who was an avid hockey player and fan. I'm loving that we're in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs-- let's go Caps!
- I have two tattoos-- an arrow on the side of my foot and this one I designed on my left forearm.
- I love love love snail mail. Cute stamps, fun stationary, little doodles or extra things tucked in, beautiful letters...it's my favorite.
- My love languages are gift-giving and words of affirmation (yep, they're tied for first) and then everything else is much much lower. Physical touch is my lowest by far-- not a fan of hugs over here. No thank you!
Anything we have in common? Anything you think is super weird or cool or interesting? I would love to hear from you in the comments :) Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a birthday to celebrate!
Grab your favorite hot drink, wrap the biggest and best blanket you own around your legs, and take a little break in your busy day to check out all the things I'm loving from all around the internet this week!
5 Down to Earth Instagram Accounts to Follow. // because don't we all need a little more down-to-earthiness in our Insta feeds?
These chocolate chip chickpea blondies // made these this week and was so pleasantly surprised by how delicious they are considering they are made with two cans of chickpeas. I don't think a healthier blondie could exist honestly. But YUM.
My current on-repeat playlist. // this is the kind of worship music that makes me turn the volume up and dance around my room wildly and freely and wonderfully.
The Letter Link-Up from Mr. Thomas & Me. // you know I love writing letters, and you know I love any idea Amber has, so you know her new link-up is my new favorite thing.
RVA people: go here. Order a dirty chai (pictured above). You're welcome.
At 90, She's Designing Tech For Aging Boomers // don't you want to be that awesome when you're 90?
Parenthood. // There are just two episodes left of this show EVER and I just don't think my heart can handle it. All the feelings.
This video. This brand. This mission. // all the yes. this gave me chills.
Glittery goodness and a GREAT organization? I'm sold. I want basically every single thing in the 31bits new holiday collection!
Soul Desire : This sermon series at Hope is rocking my world in the best way. I can't stop thinking about it and it's changing everything about how I live on the day to day. So good.
How to be "less busy" // This girl can put words to the best and most beautiful parts of life. This one made me smile and made me cry, and I want everyone to read it.
An art show in the open concourse of my church, with poetry on the walls surrounded by images that brought words to life in a perfect, simple, elegant marriage. A friend standing in front of the crowd, reading her words, sharing her heart, unraveling the story of a summer in her life in a mesmerizing way. Another friend beside her on a park bench, magic coming from each note of her cello in an enchanting way. It made me think this: To see art will move you, but to hear the heart of the artist and the story it all will absolutely captivate you. Thankful for that night.
A goal in the last 14 seconds of overtime to bring the W home for my Caps. Cheering wildly with thousands of my fellow fans in a crowded Verizon Center full of people rocking the red.
Apple picking at Carter Mountain with my best friends/small group from JMU...I love when traditions continue even though we are all living in different places these days. The best.
The new CAUSEBOX from Sevenly-- I am all about supporting organizations that give back and are working for social good...and getting a box full of awesome products every few months is AWESOME.
I just registered for the #fireworkpeople Masterclass and am SO excited about it. "The #fireworkpeople masterclass is a live, five-month journey that will help you live the life you’re hungry for, say yes to the fire in your soul, blow up all that is holding you back, and live out your epic-sized purpose to change the world." Yes. So much yes.
JOHNNYSWIM came out with a Christmas album and I all of a sudden became that girl listening to Christmas music in November. Not sorry.
Loved this perspective from my friend David-- Want to Be Depressed? Know Everything.
Made this for dinner earlier this week and have had leftovers for lunch every day and it's just delicious. (Yes, I'm vegan, but I eat seafood occasionally. Let a girl cheat a little bit!)
What are you loving lately? Comment below with your must-reads, must-listens, must-sees, or must-shops!
This art print. It's on my wall at my apartment, and I'm in love. It's of Big Ben and purchasing it helped change the lives of orphans in Zambia. What's cooler than that?!
Know your why. One Questions Businesses Should Be Answering, But Aren't.
This fall weather. PRAISE.
The Secret of Aslan. This article gave me chills -- I love CS Lewis and love how his stories are still changing us and leading us back to Jesus, even as kids.
"Vulnerability happens when you're brave and start first." Is there ever going to be a time where words from this woman don't resonate with me perfectly and wonderfully?
This journaling Bible, because come on, that's the perfect kind of Bible for a writing/doodling girl like me!
Dreaming up ideas for card sets and art prints for The RAD Store that I really and truly hope will be launching in the next week or so! Stay tuned!
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. -Psalm 19:14
Ben Howard's new album. Yes yes yes. My favorite writing soundtrack.
How cool it was to share two Story Seeker posts back-to-back about marriage...one from a couple just celebrating their 1st anniversary and the other from a couple celebrating 50 years together. I love their love and their stories.
To see past Loving Lately lists, click here! Any favorites to share? Comment below!
My favorite season is here and I think I could write a never-ending list of all the things I love about it, but instead, here's a list of much more random things I've been loving lately.
Fun little design projects like this blog header. (I didn't love that goodbye, but that's a different story.)
Pumpkin spice coffee from Trader Joe's.
Stop Singing Oceans. Yes.
HOCKEY IS BACK. Praise. I proudly #rockthered for my Caps!
The final harvest of summer vegetables from our family garden. That final batch of homemade salsa was incredible.
Dried eucalyptus hanging on my wall making everything smell so good.
Baby pumpkins scattered around my apartment.
The writings that inspired CS Lewis? Loving reading this.
Flexing my creative muscles making fox and viking masks for the boys I nanny.
This playlist: Autumn Acoustics.
What have you been loving lately? Comment with your favorites or tweet them to me @racheladawson and you might see them appear in next week's list!
White chocolate pumpkin fudge. It's gluten-free and vegan. Need I say more?
A calendar full of coffee dates with new friends=the best kind of busy.
This collection. Those tags in shades of black/white/grey...I'm swooning.
When an author you love already comes out with something new, you fall in love before your hands even hold the pages.
Learning how different boys are from girls. Nannying two little guys has been a wild (read: very physical and loud) adventure already!
This book. Why have I waited so long to read Anne Lamott?
Remember the first time I did this list? I loved it so much, it's sticking around. Sometimes, on Fridays, you just need to dive in to a big list of verbs and make sense of the crazy of life in little bites. Here it is!
Making | lots of to-do lists. I have four pages of them at the moments. Yikes.
Cooking | tacos that are pretty much identical to my regular order at Don't Look Back (TVP, traditional style on corn tortillas)...so good, people. So good.
Drinking | Breakfast Blend from a k-cup, because if it's in the work kitchen, I'm going to drink it. Multiple cups of it. All day long.
Reading | Emma by Jane Austen. A classic.
Playing | more Pictionary in the last two weeks than ever in my life. I've learned I'm much better at guessing than drawing!
Deciding | to choose joy in every circumstance. (Easier said than done.)
Wishing | I had funds to fuel a worldwide adventure. The wanderlust bug has gotten me good this summer!
Enjoying | the little things, the last minute plans, the late nights, the busy calendar
Waiting | on the world to change (shout out to John Mayer) and praying with everything in me for peace to flood the globe and love to heal every hurt and wound.
Liking | dark navy nailpolish. After School Boy Blazer by Essie is my current favorite.
Wondering | how it's possible that there have new been two 1787 weeks at JMU since I left. I miss that buzz of insane school spirit those first few weeks a new class of Dukes is on campus...enjoy the next four (or three if you're like me) years of your lives, class of 2018! (I'm old...)
Loving | this new soy (vegan and gluten-free!) "chorizo" from Trader Joe's...oh my yum. It has changed my life this week and I'll never be the same.
Pondering | what life would be like if I just packed up and moved to another country...I'm praying and dreaming big about what adventures the Lord might have in store for me!
Watching | this.
Hoping | for a cooler weather weekend so I can go on Richmond adventures. I'm feeling like just wandering this city on foot and taking pictures of anything and everything I find.
Marveling | at the massive, relentless, undeserved and shocking gift of sweet amazing grace. I spent one evening this week just listening to this version and journaling the lyrics and letting it all flood over me. I would strongly encourage you to read the words and really let them sink in to your soul.
Needing | to start packing for my trip to LA! (I am the worst packer. Maybe ever.)
Smelling | a fresh cup of coffee...my first of many today, I'm sure.
Wearing | the best and softest purple skinny jeans I got in London when I studied abroad-- they're my favorite.
Following | lots of new incredibly passionate and creative women thanks to The Yellow Conference-- cannot wait to meet you all next week and spend a few days together!
Noticing | that the more I write, the happier I am. The opposite is also true. Dedicating time to pour my thoughts out on paper is so necessary, but it's always the first thing I sacrifice when my days fill up.
Thinking | of new blog post ideas...do you have any? Want to try your hand at writing? The Rising would love to hear from you!
Sorting | through my closet and finally getting rid of things I never wear. I'm on a mission to be more intentional and conscientious about the clothes I buy and brands I support, and that starts with making room in my current wardrobe!
Buying | a subscription to Darling Magazine has me checking my little mailbox every day
Getting | SO excited for California. Finally a vacation!
Bookmarking | this.
Disliking | how fast time is flying by this summer (pumpkin spice lattes are already back at Starbucks, friends. that means fall is almost here.)
Opening | a little brown paper bag from my Monthly Miriam subscription a few nights ago and finding another beautiful piece made my night. Love Miriam Designs and love each piece those sweet women create!
Feeling | full of anticipation for what God has in store for me next. New adventures, new places, new opportunities, new mercy. Thankful.
Happy Friday, sweet friends! Fall in love with the world around you this weekend. It's a beautiful one even in the midst of tragedy, disease, injustice and brokenness. Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. Make a difference. Be a ray of light in the darkness.
This Friday, I'm borrowing a list from a blogger I discovered this week and sharing all sorts of fun little tidbits about life in my world lately! Enjoy!
Making | the most of every moment.
Cooking | recipes from my new gluten, wheat & dairy free cookbook this weekend.
Drinking | Trader Joe's Cold Brew with vanilla soy milk (a new summer discovery I'm now hooked on)
Reading | Walden by Henry David Thoreau-- I'm on a mission to read more classic literature!
Wanting | cheesecake. I don't know why, but this vegan has been seriously craving a huge, rich piece of cheesecake. Anyone have a recipe that doesn't involve cheese...?
Looking | through new glasses this week and loving them.
Playing | a lot more Scattergories now that I've been introduced to how fun it is!
Deciding | big, big things.
Wishing | this beautiful, cool autumn-like weather could just stick around forever!
Enjoying | fresh Trader Joe's alstroemerias in a mason jar on my dining room table (I'm the biggest believer in always buying yourself fresh flowers)
Waiting | on the guidance of the Spirit
Liking | the way my hair decided to be perfectly curly today, even with the rain, which is a miracle.
Wondering | what stories I'll hear and be changed by this upcoming week.
Loving | the "Afternoon Acoustic" playlist on Spotify
Pondering | "Those who trust in the LORD will be joyful" and how to actively live that out hour by hour
Considering | how He provides for even the birds of the air and the lilies of the field and will therefore provide for me as I seek His kingdom and righteousness. (Matthew 6:25-34)
Watching | a lot less TV thanks to my decision to cancel Netflix, and I'm so glad I did.
Hoping | for a rainy, lazy weekend full of reading and writing and cozying up with big mugs of chai tea.
Marveling | at the BEAUTY that is Bella Grace. Run, don't walk, to your nearest Barnes & Noble and pick this baby up right now. It is a total gem and I'm in love.
Needing | the weekend. Can I get an amen?!
Smelling | like this body lotion that makes me feel like walking summertime
Wearing | a long chunky pearl necklace I found at my favorite Harrisonburg thrift store a few years ago.
Following | today's letters // hannah brencher // elle & co.
Noticing | the little blessings throughout my days.
Knowing | God is in control, perfect, sovereign, gracious and good.
Thinking | about the things that need to come together for some very exciting upcoming events in the life of Rethink! READ MORE HERE! YAY!
Admiring | this. all of this. can I have the budget to have these clothes?!
Sorting | through all of the books I brought home from work (do I really need to keep every design-related textbook from JMU? I'm such a packrat...)
Buying | too many books from Barnes & Noble..this is what happens when I have free time to kill.
Getting | SO excited for my LA/Ventura trip for Yellow Conference and to see an old friend and some family at the end of August!
Bookmarking | Our Yellow Door (where I got this great list after some blog stalking!)
Disliking | that I need to spend time working on a better budget this weekend. Numbers are not my favorite.
Opening | two beautifully handmade cards from two sweet friends over and over because their words were perfect and much needed.
Giggling | every night on the phone with a pretty cool guy.
Feeling | ready to step forward in total trusting faith.
Thanks to Rachel of Our Yellow Door for this list-- I loved it and I'm sure you'll be seeing more of it around here in the coming weeks! Check out her blog-- it's a good one! Happy Friday, friends!