On not being a martyr of life.

 

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It’s funny. Everyone is encouraging us “LIVE WHILE YOU’RE YOUNG!” or “FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS!” and then when you do, you feel something you wouldn’t expect. Guilt.

And for a long time, I would feel guilty any time I decided to go out get some fresh air. As if actually living my life to the fullest was something I needed to apologize for or justify. That if I purposely carved time out of my schedule to refuel, I was getting behind. Being lazy. Being foolish.

But taking time away has actually been the biggest blessing in my personal AND professional life.

1. You connect with people. REALLY connect. 

When you have your phone in your hand, the stories of another human’s life have a 4 second shelf life, until you scroll down and double tap the next. And when you travel, you get to hear the real stories. On my last Tribe trip, we all joked that car rides are for the “long stories”. You have a captive audience for hours and hours, and you get to share the tales that would be too long for a typical lunch meet or quick phone call. And these are the words that matter. The ones that really connect you to other people. And leisure time facilities that more than anything else I’ve found.

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2. You’re filled up. 

Ok. You’re burnt out. Don’t lie. The maze of adulthood is long and hard and if you have to make ONE more U-turn, you’re going to lose it. But any time I get out in the world, I am refilling my tank. Taking in new ideas. Being inspired by things I hadn’t ever taken the time not notice. Feeling healthier.

And this is huge for me. Maybe the biggest part. Because I am someone, that once burnt out, is actually less productive when I just push through and keep working. I’m no longer creative, passionate, or… well.. pleasant to be around.

So when I travel or explore, I am purposely allowing myself to fill up. And all those ideas and connections pour over into my work, relationships, and lifestyle. And I can see this domino effect so clearly in my work that I try to get out as often as possible.

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3. You don’t have to be a martyr in life.

My friend Sarah wrote to me that “It takes so much courage to live free and trust that there’s truly no need to be a martyr in life. We are allowed to receive and live in abundance!”

And it’s such truth. We shouldn’t feel guilty for living this one, precious life.

So work hard. Work so very hard. But then take time to experience the world. Love people. And put that damn iPhone down.

Oh, but before you put it down… watch this video.  While in Colorado, Clint and I met with our best friend Cameron and he took us on adventure where we totally climbed to the top of a mountain in snow shoes.

XO, K.

 

OH! Big P.S.!

Kensfolk just launched it’s Instagram! @kensfolk_blog

There are big, big things in the works, and I would love if you’d like to follow the journey beside me!

Just begin.

I don’t consider myself a very organized or particularly talented individual. Yet I’ve been asked several times (to my genuine surprise) how I “get so much done”. And while I would love to take this as a compliment, it certainly wouldn’t be true to tell you that I “can do it all”. It almost seems laughable to write that, because it blows my mind that people would get the notion of something so removed from my reality.

So this is all I have to say on the subject: Just begin.

Whatever it is that you want to do, just start it. You don’t have to announce it to the world. You don’t even have to finish it. You just need to freaking start it. Right now. Stop reading this blog post this very minute and take 5 minutes towards what you want to do.

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Now, for all of you who are still reading, I understand this is not an epiphany. But sometimes you just need to hear it. Someone had to tell me to “just begin” to get my bum into action, and now I hope that I can be that person for you.

Things you need to know about beginning (that you probably already know):

1. It’s painful. The first 5 minutes of forward moving are so scary. You’ll let all those demons in your head give you all the excuses in the world not to just make ONE step. But you can pick one finger (of your choice) to raise to those thoughts and just start. 5 minutes people. FIVE. And then the worst part is done.

2. Brainstorming is not ‘doing’. Jotting down notes and scribbling potential futures is amazing. Powerful and amazing. But they aren’t “doing”. They aren’t action– they are ideas. You could be reading this with a notebook of insanely genius post it notes, and I still won’t know unless you did something with them.

3. Focus. Just because you have something you want to do doesn’t mean it’s a priority. We only have so many hours in our day. (Unless you’re Beyonce. She just HAS to have found a glitch in the revolving of the globe and squeezed more hours into her day some how.) So pick something that you know you want to have done in your life- professionally or personally. I’ve been pretty inspired by some street dancers- but it would only take about 5 minutes of ‘starting’ to realize… well… just pick the important actions.

4. Just don’t get too tied up in options that you do nothing. Sometimes you just need to fire. I can often think up so many different things I’d love to do that I spend all my time trying to sort through options. Or I become so overwhelmed that I do nothing and go watch netflix instead.

So sometimes you just have to pick an idea and go for it.

5. On that note- Stop watching Netflix. Or whatever you do to try to escape from the weight of your dreams. Maybe you sleep too much. Or go out to a bar. Or scan Instagram until your eyes burn out. You are wasting valuable time to actually put something out in the world. Use. Your. Talents.

* I feel like I am being a bit vague, so let me pair down a bit.

While this is a fairly unexciting example, it is something current. Today, my planner was busting with scribbles of things I wanted to do today from designing new business cards to writing this blog. There were about 20 non- paid items that I wanted to accomplish today and the sheer mass of ideas almost had me deciding it was time to take a nap instead of doing anything at all. But I told myself to just pick one and BEGIN. My blog has been on my mind for a while- wondering what I should write about. And something as simple as cranking out blog content can seem overwhelming when faced with so many to-dos. So I told myself I would just blog for 5 minutes. If I didn’t want to continue after that, I didn’t have to.

Well, here we are.

And, DUH. There are tons of people who accomplish WORLDS more than I do, but I am always thankful for when people share their tips and tricks to me, and so it’s only right to pass them on to you.

So, whether it’s something as small as responding to an email or as big as writing a book- just give yourself 5 minutes to start.

You’ll accomplish a whole lot more than you thought you could.

XO,

Ken

P.S. I would love to hear your advice on what you do that helps you make inspiration into action. Please comment and help out myself and the rest of the reader community!

You guys rock.

 

 

 

 

Marfa.

As some of you may have followed on Instagram, I recently went to Marfa with Maddie to shoot some Free People pieces for their social media/fpme. I’ll be excited to share some of the photos we got once we have them submitted and approved by the company.

Until then- in a bout of insomnia yesterday, I decided to stay up until 5 am and put a video together of our road trip.

10 hours there.

10 hours back.

And tee pees, one legged motorcyclists, running in empty highways, open mic night, a pound of cheezits, playing the piano with strangers, getting stranded in the desert with no gas, and lots (and lots) of twirling in between.

 

 

Enjoy.

XO, K.

WCW// Maggie from Type and Title

You guys didn’t think I had stopped crushing on driven women did you?! Because this WCW is going out to you, Maggie.

So let’s back up a bit, because how we got to this point is at least half the fun. Maggie and I found each other through social media. She had a friend who suggested she follow my work, and once I saw this girl’s skill cranking out into the world, I was hooked. We went back and forth for about a year, checking in on the latest creative efforts of the other. Then when I posted that I was going to be in California this last month, she reached out. Happens that she lives in the same city I was about to be shacking up in. So we planned brunch. Fast forward through a mimosa and a breakfast pot pie (YES. And it was heavenly.), we are practically leaning over the table passionately talking about business, blogging and the delicate art of authentic living. We took the party outdoors so I could snag some head shots. I mean- look at her.

Guys. This girl is awesome. So thankful to be friends with this branding genius, business owner and master in all things with a gel pen.

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Thank you for interviewing with me! Tell everyone a little about yourself.

Hello! I’m Maggie, and I’m a graphic designer and letterer living in San Diego. I love handmade and DIY, neutral and light colors, old things, paper goods, calligraphy, vintage clothing and my two sweet dogs. I run a design studio and Etsy shop called type & title.

What inspired you to start your own business?

I think I’ve always kind of wanted to work for myself but never really had the courage or opportunity to give it a shot before now. Around this time last year, my husband (then fiancé) and I found out we would be moving to California for his Navy job, and I seriously started thinking about going freelance. Military means we’ll move around quite a bit in the coming years, so being self-employed, with a flexible schedule, actually makes sense for me. It’s not lost on me how lucky and blessed I am that having the freedom to explore my career dreams is actually practical!

I know how that feels having a husband in oil! Flexibility is paramount. Okay. Putting your work out there is hard. Starting your own business is harder. What advice would you give to other creative entrepreneurs? 

Just keep going. Working for yourself is like one big, never-ending exercise in trial and error. Some things are going to work, but a great deal of things just won’t, which will hurt in a totally unavoidable way. Just keep pushing forward — learn from your failures and make a more informed decision next time!

What do you do to refuel and reenergize your creative vision? 

Taking a walk is my number one trick. It always seems to help me think about a project in a new or different way. Also, reading. Lately, I’m way inspired by Frankie Magazine, I can’t get enough of it. Every article seems to give me the urge to get up and make something.

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I have to ask everyone I know this: what are some of your favorite books? My favorite book from childhood is Tuck Everlasting. I read it as a teenager and cried for days — I feel like it was the first time I truly understood the beauty and importance of living a full life, experiencing as much as you can, and appreciating the moments when you’re in them. I also love everything by Joan Didion, especially her essays on California. Nine Stories by Salinger.

Beautifully said. I love hearing about a book that changed someone’s life. Speaking of life changing- who is someone (or people) who have influenced or inspired you in your work or personal life?

My younger sister is devoting her life to empowering and growing communities around the world, and she constantly inspires me to remember the effects my work and my actions have on other people. I have her initial, E, tattooed on my forearm, as a constant reminder that I’m not all by myself (and not to get too caught up inside my own head). I’m also totally obsessed with Brene Brown’s work — her TED talk on the power of vulnerability actually changed my life and the way I interact with others.

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Has having a blog helped connect you to others who share your vision, and if so, how has that affected you?

Definitely. I think connecting with like-minded folks is the best reason for anyone and everyone to keep a blog. I just finished reading this book by Seth Godin called We Are All Weird and it’s about how the age of mass marketing is over, how the internet has allowed individuals to find their own “tribes” — basically, a group of other people who are the same kind of weird that you are —  and connect via your specific shared interests. I don’t expect or even want everyone to love my blog. I just make what I like, and trust that others in my tribe will connect with my work, and potentially hire or collaborate with me so I can keep making things I love. It’s so liberating to know that network exists and that we have this platform to find, share and connect with each other.

You’re a multitalented artist- skilled at lettering, product design, logo creation, illustration and more. What is your favorite and why? How did you first learn how to use this medium?

If I look back on my life thus far, the one thing that connects through everything I’ve done is the written word. I read constantly as a child, I used to write and wanted to be an author or journalist but decided in high school that I liked designing better than reporting. Even then, I worked in publication design jobs from my freshman year of college all the way up until last year when I went freelance and decided I wanted to focus on lettering and illustration. Now, when I take freelance jobs, they still tend to be for bloggers or writers, and I maintain a blog myself. I can’t escape! But in a good way — I hope I’m always able to work with letters and words. I’m fascinated by the many ways we use them to communicate.

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I love that. What are some words that have inspired you

 “And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’” – Kurt Vonnegut

Sometimes I think that heaven will be like a perfect Sunday. What does your perfect day look like? 

Coffee on the porch with a book or magazine, a long walk with my husband and our pups (maybe a hike!), a craft project, and a long stretch of time away from my phone, the internet or television. Sundays are the best day to unplug and reconnect with our more immediate world.

And for the most important part of the interview. We’re all dying to know: Who was your favorite Spice Girl and why? 

Baby! I always wanted to color my blonde hair at the ends like she did, but wasn’t quite bold enough. I went to the reunion concert in Chicago in 2008 with some friends. We all dressed up as our favorites, and I finally fulfilled my childhood dream and dyed the ends pink (in pigtails, of course).

Thank you so much for taking the time to pass on your wisdom and encouragement. I know It’s got me all pumped up.

Maggie, being the amazing person she is created a desktop wallpaper for you guys. So make your screen pretty with her calligraphy and check out her other work HERE.  You can also follow her @typeandtitle on Instagram to get a daily dose of her skills.

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Now go do amazing things friends. XO, K.

 

creative cocktail hour.

There have been several events over the past year that have really changed my heart on the matter of community. I have always been social, but since moving to Houston, I have recognized the true importance of humans coming together. To understand each other. And support each other. To let someone else know you’re just as weird as they are.

And at the same time I began recognizing the importance of this was about the time that I realized that everyone is terrified of community. You get older and this world becomes a place that’s not safe for your story to be told. So we hide behind our jobs and our computer screens because it’s safer than saying “this is me”.

I am strange bird. But I remember going to Circles Conference last September and feeling truly understood in those weird spaces of my brain that make me want to create things. We were all made of the same stuff and we were all strange birds together.

Since then, I have set out to intentionally connect with strangers that I think might be a little like me. I am floored by the amazing people I’ve been able to meet through social media. Like Maggie from Type and Title, a branding wizard, who I met up with in California (more on this creative fireball next week). Aric Queen, a writer for National Geographic (who has an inspiringly raw book out called Shanghai Exile Diaries that you should NEED to read). He helped me with my travels through Europe in a way that was so completely touching. Sam Melton who shoots film for West Elm and really encouraged me in quest for connecting people. Rebecca Rebouche, a woman after my own heart- a designer for Anthropologie and one HELL of an artist. Seriously, check out her stuff.

To call these people friends now is an honor. And makes the world feel like a lot cooler of a place.

Anyone who has lived in Houston knows that it’s not a place where creatives jump out at you. It’s a big ole’ industrial melting pot where artists are a little more underground. So I set out to connect these individuals. I called up a friend in Houston and told her I wanted to host a meet up for all the various photographers, designers, painters, sculptors, writers, and filter obsessed people in the area.

So with the help of a new friend, Edi (find him on @htx_), I rounded up a bunch of people and asked them to email me if they’d like to all grab some drinks and share stories.

Here’s where I am going to be honest. I was pretty scared it was going to be a huge flop and I was going to be the idiot with the idea of herding strangers on instagram. And then 30 freaking awesome people came.

Well shit- now they’re actually here. And I’m trying to pretend I’m not a nervous wreck. And then the coolest thing happened. People started thanking me for coming- saying that it was such a big deal for them to come to something like this. “WAIT- YOU’RE NERVOUS TOO?!” And then in that moment I was overcome with the “okayness” of it all. Why are we so scared to be with other people- to just show up? Here I am surrounded by some of the most beautiful minds and getting blessed on by their inspiration and unique stories. People are just people. And when we decide to “show up”, our days are so much richer for it.

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So thank you to every single one of you who went out of your way to come out and spend the night photographing, wearing your hats, having some cocktails, and being brave enough to show up. Yay to a new Houston creative community.

XO, K.

Cali + VSCO.

The last few days have been a bit rainy, but super productive. The blog got a much needed facelift. Emails were answered. I got caught up on my projects. And Sarah (a career coach for creative entrepreneurs) took me to Coffee and Tea Collective to really nail down what I envision for my business and future.

And then I ended the day finally indulging in the new VSCO filter pack. Here are a few snaps I grabbed yesterday from C&T Collective and what filters I put on them.

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Kodak Ultramax 400 Soft Highs

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Ektar 100 +++

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Agfa Vista Cool +

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Kodak Ektar 100 – –

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Agfa Vista 100 – –

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Kodak Ektar 100 warm

To give you an idea of personality of this new pack, here is a comparison of what came straight out of my camera and then the filtered aftermath.

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XO, Kendall

Simplify. Community. Travel.

I’m a little late on the new year’s resolutions train, but I’ve been really trying to solidify a game plan for 2014. Something simple but powerful. I decided on giving myself 3 words that I would filter my year through. Those three lifelines are: Simplify. Community. Travel.

And yes, I have a million goals for my career and what I want to accomplish. And while that is well and good, I believe I’ve been letting pride and expectation push me too hard where I can be weathered, empty and over worked. So instead of wanting the “next best thing”, this year is for getting back to the basics of intention. Doing less but doing it better: full of thought, meaning and a story.

1. Simplify.

This is first on my list because it is the most crucial and convicting change I need to make in 2014. To say this is big on my heart right now would be an understatement. It is ripping at me in a way that is both inspiring and deeply painful.

When I moved to Houston, I was at one of the lowest.. okay… the lowest point of my life. I won’t go into further detail- you’ve heard me bitch enough on that subject. And if you’d really like to hear me whine, knock yourself out here: circa October 2012. In that time, I found comfort in the things I surrounded myself with. Oh, I don’t have anyone to hang out with on the weekends? Nothing a vintage couch won’t fix.

But it didn’t fix. And soon I was drowning in possessions that were beautiful, but meaningless. Sometimes I secretly wished (and sometimes still do) that the whole house would burn down and I could start fresh.

When I traveled through Europe, I realized that I could truly live comfortably with only the things that I was able to carry on my back. I jokingly told Clint that we should just get an apartment in one of the countries we were visiting and start over with only the things in our packs- severing all ties with our American possessions.

Staying in people’s homes abroad was really shocking. They had such simple lives- having nothing more in their fridge than what they would eat in the next few days. Closets with only a few high quality staples. Small homes with minimal furniture and uncluttered presence. It was as if every other country had this innate sense of what mattered and didn’t waste anything beyond that.

And I was disgusted with myself. Absolutely embarrassed by my gluttony. Our overflowing closets (PLURAL.) and so much food we have to throw it away because we couldn’t even consume what we bought. Ew.

I can’t continue to live a lifestyle that is so very careless and wasteful. Clint and I collectively decided it was time for a big change. So we’re dumping out our closets. And selling all our furniture (okay, not the coffee table… so no you can’t have it) and moving to much, much smaller apartment when our lease ends. We’re flushing our lives of the things that we previously believed we needed to be happy- an idea so ludicrous that it’s hard for me to type.

And I know that this may sound like such a small battle. Not everyone struggles with excess. I envy you, you rare bird, you. But we do. And I’m out to really conquer my flawed lifestyle.

A book that I could read over and over that has been really getting in my face and heart on this matter is “7” by Jen Hatmaker. She can have you on the floor laughing and convict the shoes right off of you in a single sentence. I can not recommend this book to anyone more. But beware. This book is scary. And you can never unread what truth she will speak over you.

2. Community.

I can feel this strong pull going through the creative world right now based on the idea of gathering together. Some really awesome publications are going back to the roots of unfussy, authentic community and the power of simply gathering people around a table.

Some of my favorites include:

1. Kinfolk Magazine (I actually found this magazine after I named my blog, but felt a deep connection to this seasonal publication so maybe it was meant to be?)

2. Hearth Magazine.

3. Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. The hostess with the mostest who invites you to her table and into her raw soul. Her other books have helped me as much as a friend during the hard times. She begins this novel out with this:

“My prayer is that you’ll read these pages first curled up on your couch or in bed or in the bathtub, and then after that you’ll bring it to the kitchen with you, turning corners of pages, breaking the spine, spilling red wine on it and splashing vinegar across the pages, that it will become battered and stained as you cook and chop and play, music loud and kitchen messy. And more than anything, I hope that when you put this book down, you’ll gather the people you love around your table to eat and drink, to tell stories, to be heard and fed and nourished on every level.”

I want this year to be full of authentic relationships, an open door to my home and table, intentional connection to the people I care about through handwritten letters and warm gatherings, listening to people’s stories, and letting down some of those walls that keep people at arm’s length. I want to meet strangers. I want to people to sleep on my couch. I want to be involved with the people in my church and do life beside them.

In all, I want to spend less time on myself and more time on building, nurturing, caring and feeding those around me.

Today I met up with a fellow photographer I met on Instagram. We virtually met through a friend of mine who heard I was interested in starting to shoot film. With his current goal being to build community as well (us artists can be a lonely bunch), he invited me to coffee. It was completely invigorating to my soul. We talked for hours on the importance of community and sharing deep stories that matter.

He told me a story of a woman he knows that lives in a 500 sq foot apartment that had a grassy area behind it. She had a huge table made with the goal to have 1,000 people eat a meal on that table before the end of the year. With a budget of only 75 dollars, what started as a small get together became hundreds and hundreds of strangers and friends coming together at one time to share food and their stories.

I seriously got the chills. Here I am being inspired and poured into by someone who was a complete stranger hours before.

And I am aiming for this year to be full of a lot less selfishness and a lot more connecting.

Come stay with me while I still have a guest bedroom.

3. Travel.

While I love seeing new places, this is more of a goal of stretching my understanding of the world- and myself in it. One of the things I love the most about leaving home is that is scares the pants off of me. It strips my sense of control and forces me to look into myself the way few other things do. And this self reflection and personal growth are paramount for this next year.

It teaches me to live in the moment. To be strong when things go completely and totally wrong. To be humble. To be in awe of what God has so skillfully crafted. To be open and understanding to all different ways of life. To grasp that your individual talents are desperately needed in the world and you must share them. To accept your self in a way that is devoid of self hate, but eager to change.

So the list current list includes:

Cape Town in Africa (March/April)

Marfa, Texas (to sleep in teepees!) (Feb/March)

Florida (so excited to have the opportunity to shoot a wedding here!)

California

Portland (May- and will be my first solo trip where I will travel from Oregon to Canada with my backpack and no companion.)

Most of these trips will not be fancy. I will most likely sleep in my car a few days. Or in a tent. Or on someone’s floor. But that’s going to be the best part of the journey. And I can’t wait to be broken and remolded over and over this year.

What are your goal words this year? Your stories inspire me.

XO, K