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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.