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!

Let’s talk about something awkward.

I just spent an hour on the phone talking to one of the most amazing people I know.

Deeply encouraging. Loyal. Beautiful. Like. Turn your head beautiful. And creative as all get out.

Towards the end of the conversation, she brought up a business venture that she was interested in. I encouraged her, just saying “Offer a time to come meet with them. And then talk yourself up.”

Her response really hit me.

 

“Talking yourself up and knowing your worth as a woman is probably the hardest thing. Like, what do I say about myself that is so great, you know?”

 

I wanted to argue. I mean, COME ON. You’re amazing. Give me the resume and I’ll write it myself- just chalk full of all the reasons you would rock this job.

But if I’m honest, it’s absolutely true. It’s hard to see your own value sometimes [lots and lots of times].

You’re so stuck in your own life, your own imperfect skin, surrounded by your own baggage that you truly forget what you have to offer the world. And your best friend can see it. Your family can see it. Hell, you know your dog sees it. But you can’t.

I remember a friend had me do an exercise once that radically changed how I viewed Kendall.

She had me write a letter to myself as if I were writing it to my best friend. 

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If your best friend came to you with the same concerns of self-worth that you do, what would you tell her? 

See, there are two types of people in this world.

People who write letters. And people who don’t.
And I am so far to the left of those two types of people that I would gladly have everyone throw their iPhones in a big bonfire and dance around it. And then I would go home and write a letter about it.

I pour my feelings out in postage, scribbles, and notes. I keep a physical planner. I was totally up for this challenge.

But then pen got to paper and I was blank. Wow. I would be 3 pages deep if this were my best friend. But about me? I ain’t got nothin’.

Eventually I wrote. Telling me that yes. Yes, I had something big to offer the world. And why yes, I am wasting time by throwing myself a big surprise pity party. Because guess what? It’s time to get to crackin’ with these talents I was given.
DO YOU KNOW AWKWARD IT IS TO TALK GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF?

I mean, even writing about this makes me all damp in the pits.

But writing a letter to myself with the kindness of a best friend really helped me realize that all those self-worth issues were just in my head.

And you. Yes, you. Reading this. I may know you. I might not. But you are so fantastic. And I know we ALL think we’re not at times. And I know I’m not just being all “feely girl” over here.  I struggle. You struggle. We’re all here.

So please, write yourself a letter as your best friend.

It isn’t conceited. It’s acceptance, kindness, and respect for yourself. It also isn’t perfection. I hate to break it to the two of us, but we aren’t flawless.

But write it. As your biggest fan. And I hope it helps you see yourself the way you are, you amazing human, you.

XO, K.

 

 

 

** I stole this image off of Pintrest.

 

 

 

Courage.

In August, I went to Yellow Conference, in Las Angeles, CA- where I was introduced to the spunky, ball of energy Caitlin Crosby (the bomb shell below). Aside from her charm and superior execution of sarcasm, she founded a company called The Giving Keys, where she sells keys embossed with different words and phrases. Theses keys eventually help homeless people get into their own apartments, and off the streets.

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You pick a key that in inscribed with a word you want to internalize, and you wear it until you feel like you have fully possessed the word. At that point, you pass your piece of jewelry on to someone else who you feel needs that word for themselves.

Well, I am a lover of words and believe in the power of them. (I mean HELLO, I write a blog for pete’s sake.) So I gave myself a few days to think about what word I most needed in my life.
Throughout Yellow, I was pushed to write down my “big crazy dreams”. And in that moment, I could hardly even put pen to paper. If I was honest with myself, I felt that my dreams were so much bigger than anything I could truly accomplish. These “big scary dreams” were desires of my heart that crept into my thoughts over and over, only to have me snuff them out, knowing that I couldn’t pull them off. That was for other people. The people that had a “K” after their Instagram followers, had famous fathers, or washed their hair more than once a week.

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As Yellow went on, I recognized that all of the women speaking were these real, beautifully raw, normal people. And the only difference between me and them was that they believed in their dreams enough to actually make them happen. And BOY were these women makin’ it happen.

So I picked the word “Courage”. I selected it so that I could wear it around my neck to remind myself that it’s the only word I need to make my “big crazy dreams” into “been there, and did that”.

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Everyone has a different story, different goals, and a different outlook. But we need to know that our dreams were placed on our hearts for a reason.

So no matter how awkward you might feel, I encourage you to write down your “big crazy dreams”. Don’t water them down. Don’t be scared of your pen. Just write.

And then pick a word that will help you get there. And wear that word (physically or mentally) until you own it.

XO, K.
P.S. I was ridiculously flattered by your responses to my last blog. Thank you for taking time out of your busy, busy day to read this little publication of mine, and even more so- for contributing. Keep being awesome.

 

 

**thank you capturing my key, Hannah Hagaman!

** Yellow Conference snaps by yours truly.

 

 

 

The one with the crunchy post.

This is going to make me sound so crunchy, but at the end of my yoga class yesterday, my instructor said something that stuck with me:

“Take a second to think about the things that make you feel alive. What brings vitality to your life? What makes you feel so full that you want to be the best person you can be?

Now take these things and make room for them in your life. Carve away time to do them: because the world needs more people are are actually alive.”

 

Two things I thought of were: (there are many more- but pretending to be on So You Think You Can Dance alone in my apartment didn’t seem quite as inspiring.)

*Creating for the sake of creating- without payment or instruction.

*Riding my bike for miles with a damn good playlist.

 

So this morning, when I had business emails to answer, I decided to put them to the side for a minute and create- draw. write. take a few pictures.

So here is my “this is what makes me feel alive” creation: a photo I took of an adventure and some hand lettering I drew this morning. These are just my scribbles- but it makes me feel alive to create to just create.

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And for those of you who love biking- or just listening to good music- I’m cooking up a play list for you.

Now, just do something today that makes you feel full and inspired. Don’t down play it. Don’t feel guilty for it. Just do it: because we need more people to actually be alive.

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.

 

Lettering + dreaming.

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I recently read an article that encourages one to create something everyday to share. Not just your latte picture (GUILTY AS CHARGED), the wing of an airplane (look at what a great little traveler I am!), or the Texas sunset- but something that you’ve created or worked on. It helps you stay inspired, connect people to your vision, and refine your craft. This is something that I really want to embrace because I can too often get sucked into the habit of creating only when I get a job to do so. So today’s project was lettering.

This message has meant something to me in the last year. Listen, I have alot of big dreams. And I often let my fear of man steal that fire inside of me. But this is me deciding that it’s time to move full steam ahead. And I hope you do too.

Create something awesome this week guys. This life isn’t just a read through.

XO, K.

 

Image: John Hoyland

Lettering/Typography: Me

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