{31 Days} Day 26: Living Art

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Linking up with Emily at Chatting at the Sky for a grand finish to the 31 day series...I'm sharing the art I have been creating this year, but have not quite mentioned or fully shown on here. All images shot by yours truly.

I love photography.

I do not think there are adequate words to express the quiet joy, overwhelming fulfillment, and sheer magic that I feel when a moment is captured through light + patience.

A photograph is a view into someone's soul - their very essence. Their self revealed to the world.

To capture that is an honor beyond description. It is worth the wait, the worried glance at the sky, the sheer chance that the ray of sun will hit the person's face just so; worth the long hours on my feet, the plethora of wild and uncomfortable poses in order to achieve the perfect angle.

Some people need time and coaxing to come out of their shell, to truly laugh and smile, to be. 

When that happens - and even better, when I am able and quick enough to capture it on camera - I see a glimpse of their soul. Of the life within them.

When that happens, I can feel Art. I can feel it in the weight of the camera, in the sun glancing off hair, in the gleam of someone's eyes, in the breaths between shots...I can feel it all around me.

 In me.

A part of me.

When I am completely immersed in the act of photography, feet planted, eyes surveying, voice instructing, fingers clicking...then. Then I am living out Art. 

It is not stagnant, and only alive when I am finished, when I have gotten the perfect shot or finished editing.

I feel art when I am creating.

Creating art itself is Art.

Photo credit//me, myself + I

This is Day 26 of 31 Days

{31 Days} Day 25: Be a World-Shaker by Being You

There's a deep urge in me to be real and raw. I want this to be a place of sharing, of friendship, of trust.

Of community.

We're all so different and yet all so same. All searching for happiness, all seeking beauty and joy in our lives, all hungry for long and a sense of belonging.

And that starts with you.

With me.

With us.

Our generation wants to change the world, save lives, create groundbreaking newness. We want to be brave and bold and fearless and live with no regrets.

We want to find ourselves.

Become ourselves.

Live out our calling.

But what if we don't have to travel halfway across the world, become president, build a school, climb Mount Everest, or completely change our personality?

What if being a world-shaker, a world-changer, a fearless person...



being you.

What if we discover who we are - without losing ourselves first?

Who We Are :: Switchfoot

What if instead of fighting so hard to run somewhere and "find ourselves," we look for the world-changing moments closer to home? What if we breathe in the air in our backyards, seek art in our everyday lives, and recognize Christ in others around us?

What if being great means being good in your life right where it is now? Making current relationships more meaningful, volunteering locally, exploring the wild beauty of landscape near you...

and change the world - one hug, one word of encouragement, one conversation, one day of walking the walk that you talk, one smile at a time? 

We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
And sitting by desolate streams;
World losers and world forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:

Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.
~Arthur O'Shaugnessy

So go be a shaker and mover of the world.

 By loving the people in your life as fiercely as you can. By being willing to listen to someone when they need a friend. By writing the words that come from you and you alone. By serving others, even if it's just by holding a door open. By hugging with the best hug you can. By living each day like it's a piece of art you are creating. By not being afraid to cry and show others that you are vulnerable. By holding someone's hand when they need it. By choosing color and light. By drinking in the fresh air and gazing at the stars from a hammock or the roof of a car. By wearing the style that is so you.  

Whether it's polka dots or flannel. 

Be you. 

And then you will be a world-shaker. 
By being a part of and changing 
the worlds of the people 
in your life. 

{31 Days} Day 24: Fostering Godly Friendships

Friendship is such a precious and valued part of womanhood...we love our girlfriends more than anything because they truly understand us, can sympathize, and just offer the relief of a smile, a listening ear, and some girl time. That being said, I think our idea of how friendship has changed somewhat. We used to tailor what we said - conversations were one on one, and now we broadcast our "stream of consciousness to all 500 friends at once," text in group messages or chat on social media where everyone else can see the conversation.

But there is truly nothing sweeter than sitting across from a dear friend in person and laughing, talking, sharing, listening, encouraging, and soaking up God's grace from them. God gave us friends for a reason - which is why friendship + fellowship is such an important part of being a woman!

When I want to connect with someone, or really truly spend time soaking up their presence and the joy of their friendship, I long for an intimate setting, like at a cozy restaurant or cafe, just us. A chance to breathe and just be in each other's presence. When I'm home,  I head over to dear friends' houses: we curl up in chairs as we chat or do each other's  hair...

I remember one time I went over before Christmas to bake cookies with some of my best friends and their brothers,who are also very close friends, and it was so lovely. We spent the entire evening relaxing, baking leisurely; soft, warm Christmas music played in the background, the lights glimmered on the tree bedecked with richly-colored ornaments and tinsel. Eventually we ended up on the floor, sitting around talking and laughing and just drinking in the time we were spending with each other. It was, and still is, one of the coziest and loveliest days I remember, because we cultivated our friendship by quietly celebrating it and being in one another's presence. It was an intimate, cozy feeling.

Small circles are a good thing sometimes. I know had there been a large group of friends or even one or two others over, yet dynamics would have naturally been different. The opportunity for wonderful one-on-one time would have been lost...and nowadays, when so much of our day is filled with simultaneous noises and tasks, often requiring multitasking, it's so refreshing to concentrate solely on one person, on one thing.

 On one friendship.

Growing closer together as souls and deepening the sweet friendship you share with another person can be so difficult if you don't make that special alone time. Especially in college when things are so hectic....but it is doable and so very good for the soul. Make plans for a coffee date. Grab lunch or dinner together. Hang out over the weekend. Work out together. Or just make plans for an impromptu picnic.

Female friendship and mentoring is so very wonderful, so I encourage you to seek it out! Maybe you're not around many other young women in person if you live in a small town, etc. In that case, write letters or send emails! Keep up with each other on blogs if you both have them. Friendship is a wonderful thing and one that should not only treasured, but constantly cultivated and cared for.

This is Day 24 of 31 Days in October. 

{31 Days} Day 23: Make Art (Or Do What Brings You Joy)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

If there's one thing I've come to realize, it's that I don't ever want to do anything (as my profession for life) that doesn't bring me joy.

It's been on my heart a lot lately...the meaning of taking joy in what you do. In being happy with it.

Perhaps it's because I've been listening to the soundtrack of Ratatouille - a charming animated film about Remy, a little Parisian rat who finally begins living when he discovers cooking and French cuisine...his world opens up and is suddenly a beautiful, marvelous place. Because he realizes that anyone can cook. And suddenly, his life has joy. He is making art through his soups and spices and his souffl├ęs.

I've also been reading Julia Child's book, My Life in France - a book about a woman who took complete joy in what she did. And who changed the world by spreading that joy and encouraging others to take love and take joy in food + cooking.

What a woman.

And that is my view of cooking...it gives me joy. I am supremely happy in the kitchen, stirring piping hot pots of soup, folding flour into sugar and butter, rolling out pie crusts, or sprinkling fresh herbs into a savory dish. There is little experience like pulling a glistening, golden pie out of the oven or garnishing a succulent, steaming roast with a sprinkle of sea salt.

Whatever else may come, whatever else may happen, let me do what I love.

"I am going to make everything around me beautiful - that will be my life."
~Elsie de Wolfe

As women, we are called to be joyful - to find the joy in life, to grant joy to others through our grace. When we do that, we are fulfilling God's calling for us. He didn't make us to be miserable. He made us artists, people with passions and gifts. He made us to share those passions, the things that we take joy in.

So seek out what brings you joy. Whether it's cooking, helping others, photography, leadership, writing, studying history, working with animals, designing clothes, sketching architecture, showing love to dear ones in your life, or playing music.

Find the joy in your life. Live it, breath it, treasure it. Make it. Make it your art.

I want to do what brings me joy. I want to make art. But the best kind of art.

The kind that makes me happy and the kind that I love...because that brings me joy.

{31 Days} Day 22: Words from Women

Day 22 of 31 Days.

“It's definitely difficult being a woman and growing up a girl.
 When you're graceful, people say you lack personality; when you're serene, people say you're boring; when you're confident, people say you're arrogant; when you're feminine, people say you're too girly; and when you climb trees, people say you're too much of a tomboy! As a woman, you really need to develop a very strong sense of self and the earlier you can do that, the better!
~C. JoyBell C. 

“Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; 
dress impeccably and they remember the woman.” 
~Coco Chanel 

“Why do women want to dress like men when they’re fortunate enough to be women? Why lose femininity, which is one of our greatest charms? We get more accomplished by being charming than we would be flaunting around in pants and smoking. I’m very fond of men. I think they are wonderful creatures. I love them dearly. But I don’t want to look like one. When women gave up their long skirts, they made a grave error…” 
~Tasha Tudor

“We are women, and my plea is Let me be a woman, holy through and through, asking for nothing but what God wants to give me, receiving with both hands and with all my heart whatever that is.” 
~Elisabeth Elliot 

“It’s the fire in my eyes, 

And the flash of my teeth, 

The swing in my waist, 
And the joy in my feet. 
I’m a woman 

~Maya Angelo

"Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. 
She just did it backwards and in high heels.” 
~Ann Richards

“It's not very easy to grow up into a woman. We are always taught, almost bombarded, with ideals of what we should be at every age in our lives...but there are four things admirable for a woman to be, at any age! Whether you are four or forty-four or nineteen! It's always wonderful to be elegant, it's always fashionable to have grace, it's always glamorous to be brave, and it's always important to own a delectable perfume!"
~ C. JoyBell C. 

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”
~Nora Ephron

{31 Days} Day 21: The Life I Want to Lead

Monday, October 28, 2013

You can read my other 31 Days posts here. 

So many of us girls and women chase after a perfect ideal... "If I can just balance school and work and studying and exercising and cooking healthy and being perfectly organized and always looking put together, then I'll be happy. 

But will we? Or do we lose the actual beauty and rhythm and joy of life when we try too hard to live a perfect one? 

My family is large and chaotic and crazy and noisy and nothing ever goes perfectly according to plan...I grew up like that and I'm that way also now at college. But you know what? 

It's okay. 

I'm not saying  that it is all right to disregard your studies or cease to put in effort. Life takes a lot of hard work and elbow grease. But I think when we stop trying to reach the goal of a perfect unattainable life, then that's when we can truly start living. No one is perfect. So why should and how can anyone's life ever be perfect? 

Maybe we need to stop trying to live a perfect one. And just look around at the life we're already living. 

I love the life that I am living right now - I want my life to be messy and beautiful...simple and colorful.

I know for a fact that those sort of things can exist in harmony. I want my life to continue to be an adventure where I wake up and wonder not only what I did to deserve such blessings, but also to marvel at the amazing complexity and breath-snatching wondrous beauty all around me, whether in the calm of a dawn morning in the woods, the serenity of reading in a dear friend's company, or basking in the warm sun while music wings through the air bewitchingly.

And forget not 
that the earth delights
to feel your bare feet
and the winds 
long to play
with your hair
~Kahlil Gibran

If Life is a book, then I want mine to be a mixture of Chronicles of Narnia, Alice in Wonderland, and Harry Potter: filled with exploring, deep and lovely friendships, and good food.

If Life is a movie, then I want mine to be a mixture of We Bought A Zoo, P. S. I Love You, The Last Holiday: living life to the fullest, following your heart, doing what you love, having 20 seconds of insane courage + trusting that something great will come of it.

If I can live a life like that, then I truly couldn't ask for more.

Messy and beautiful.

Two things that go well together.

“A lifetime isn't forever, so take the first chance, don't wait for the second one! 
Because sometimes, there aren't second chances! And if it turns out to be a mistake? 
So what! This is life! A whole bunch of mistakes! 
But if you never get a second chance at something you didn't take a first chance at? 
That's true failure.” 
~C. Joybell C.

Because life's not perfect, and if I wait and plan and Pin for a life like that...I'll be waiting a very long time.

I'd rather live now.

Source: Pinterest

Mess, craziness, and absurdity now. Because there's beauty, love, and grace in those.

It's the messy and beautiful life that's worth living. 

{31 Days} Day 20: Loving Yourself

I love being 20.

Something about this year has shifted something inside me. Partly because I'm a sophomore in college and have that first year under my belt, partly because I know what I'm capable. Partly because I've already faced so many daunting tasks + challenges.

But mostly because I love me and who I've become. I feel like I finally am starting to completely know my style, my quirks, my habits, the things and qualities I am drawn to.

But instead of feeling insecure or wondering how it looks or what other people think, I am soaking it up + loving what I love. No apologies.

And it's wonderful.

I wrote this before reading Caitlin's original post and can honestly say I spent some time last year struggling to find myself  - who I was. As a young adult. As Grace. As a young woman of God.

And this year, I think I'm finally starting to know.

I have a thing for polka dots.

I cannot go a day without bobby pins.

Bright colors (fuschia, orange, teal) make me happy.

Coffeeshop music and mismatched eclectic furniture makes my hipster heart flutter.

I'm all about that black or brown eyeliner winged flick.

Long swirly skirts and swingy tops with rings bring out my inner Bohemian nature.

I adore red lipstick but love the pale look also.

I love being organized (even though I get unorganized very quickly).

I am an little autumn bird, through and through. I will take scarves and boots any day over shorts and flip-flops.

I have a plethora of shoes (not really when compared to some others I know) and am proud of it.

I love color-coordinating.

And things that clash in a fabulous way.

I wear heels, wedges, and platforms every chance I get. But ballerina flats are my trademark.

 Does that even make sense? It does in my brain.

I am a sucker for big band/swing/old Hollywood singers. Mel Torme, Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble, Chet Baker, Fred Astaire, Nat King Cole. Gah. Something about love songs crooned in a velvet voice...gets me every time.

I wear contacts most of the time, but also rock glasses intentionally. Don't like them? Too bad. It is my face, after all. And I think there's nothing wrong with glasses.

I love dressing classy+ vintage but am secretly a flannel-wearing rebel on the inside.

I can't do black coffee. Heavens, no. It's just too boring. There has to be milk and some sort of flavor. Seasonal/fun/creative flavors make the sun in my sky shine. Red velvet lattes are the best thing ever.

Sunglasses in my book = ray-bans or enormous cat-eyes. No shame.

I am foodie: give me baked donuts, bread + cheese, black bean chili, white bean hummus, or gingerbread hot chocolate any day.

I am a hugger. If you aren't and we become friends, I make you into one.

Dying my hair red...best hair decision I ever made. Love.

I would wear yoga pants every day, all day if I could.

I am a beanie fiend. Hipster, remember?

Photo credit:  Mallory Olivier// Instagram pics c/o Grace Dalton

This is Day 20 of 31 Days - read the rest of the posts here. 

{31 Days} Day 19: Finding Yourself

Hello, lovelies - I have another guest post for you today. My beautiful dear friend Caitlin, whom I'm so blessed to know in real life at college, blogs over at Beauties, Bliss, and Bears...Oh My! and yesterday, she wrote an incredibly raw, real post that is so beautiful and true. 

I loved it so much I asked her if I could share it on here, especially since it is about us as women and as bloggers/blog readers. I definitely can relate to what she writes about, especially this summer, when I shared about my recent weight gain. 

Enjoy her lovely words and then pop over to her blog to leave her some love + follow her posts. 


I woke up this morning craving spaghetti. Spaghetti and coffee to be exact. 
However, out of laziness I opted for a quesadilla and cup of overly sweetened Jo...I should have known then and there that this day was going to go nowhere. I sat there eating my odd choice of breakfast food while catching up on some blog reading...And it was nice...but something that I had been mulling over the past couple of days in my anything but average mind crept back into view,

As of late I feel as if I hadn't been myself... and let me tell you that is a horrible place to be. I came to a slow realization of this, and today I think I subconsciously chose to remedy it. The blogging world is wonderful, but underneath all the "genuine" posts that are intended to provide some sort of answers to questions, that we as readers may have concerning a certain topic, there is something else at work. I hadn't really noticed it making an appearance in my life, until recently. 

See, when we open ourselves up to the blogging world we have the option to choose how we come across. "But don't paint me like the good guy because every I time I write I get to choose the angle that you view me and select the nicest light" (Watsky) Those words had never had such relevance. When was the last time you saw someone post their bad hair day? Or pictures of them in anything less than their best?

Now don't get me wrong, I understand why we do this. Why would we want to put something out there that we could be criticized for? We seek to be loved. Plain and simple. We put the best version of ourselves out there and pray that people acknowledge just how awesome we are. We hide behind these images and take on personas that never should have belonged to us in the first place. And that is what I mean by saying I haven't been myself.

When I read through blogs... I get the notion that I am not quite enough. That I'm not beautiful unless I contour my face this way, or unless my hair falls perfectly every single stupid day. I find new tips to make myself more attractive, and by golly I hop on them without a second thought because as I've learned from reading, I obviously haven't reached perfection yet. And it is exhausting. Yesterday I looked incredibly good, and I felt as if I almost achieved a look many of my favorite bloggers would be proud of, but I also had a ridiculous amount of make-up on. 

It was so heavy and I felt tired all day, and I think that is when I began to realize I wasn't the Caitlin I once knew.

So here I am.

 Hair still wet from my shower, and nothing gracing my skin except for a bit of moisturizer and some acne medication for this mountainous pimple smack dab in the middle of my forehead. 

But holy nonsense am I beautiful, and I mean that in the least vain way possible.

 Seeing myself for the first time in who knows how long, in my own skin is so refreshing and I feel awesome. I'm getting nothing accomplished, and I'm eating my weight in food, but LA-DEE-DA, I could honestly care less. Today, I am not shaking hands and making plans. Today, I'm going back to my roots and taking in the Caitlin that has been absent for far too long, and putting away the guise that I had come to accept as myself.

Today you are you, 
that is truer than true.
 There is no one alive that is youer than you. 
~Dr. Seuss

Come to think of it, that is one heck of an accomplishment. I am me, and I am breaking every single rule I had put in place for myself over the past couple of months, and I'm rocking it. So it turns out this day has not been in vain after all.

I am Caitlin Kline and this is Walter the Poisonous Water Buffalo and we approve of this message. 

Moral of the story: spaghetti and coffee can do a whole lotta good in your life. 


This is part of my 31 Days series - read more here.

Photo credit: first two pictures c/o Grace Dalton, last picture c/o Caitlin Kline

{31 Days} Day 18: Feeding the Soul

We feed our bodies, attempt sufficient hours of sleep for our minds to renew, and strive to consume nutrient-rich foods.

But do we feed our soul as much? 

There is such richness and spirit-lifting in beauty that feeds the soul. 

Dark chocolate, sharp and bitter. 

Lilting, gentle strains of the violin.

Soft sheets on bed after a long day.

Sundrop-filled Pride and Prejudice soundtrack.

I believe that as women, our soul longs for beauty and loveliness and rest. We get so caught up in our daily to-dos that we forget we have to take care of ourselves also...

Maybe that means spending time soaking up some Scripture, or putting on your favorite soothing music during the day, or eating lunch outside while enjoying the (hopefully) cool weather...painting your nails an autumn hue like burgundy or grey, sipping a seasonally flavored coffee...or even something as small as taking a 20 minute nap.

Yes, naps. They are glorious things and should be a regular, daily occurrence. If only.

If we don't nourish our souls, we grow tired and cross and snappy and even a tad bitter at the lack of joy and loveliness in our lives. Or perhaps that's just me. I know days always seem longer and things more hopeless if I don't take a few moments to take care of myself. We push and push ourselves, trying to do it all, to do it quickly and efficiently, running from one place to the next - especially if you're a college student who literally has to run from class to class all over campus.

Even if it's just a few minutes of drinking in a lovely, sunny fall day or grabbing a drink on the way to class or listening to music before bed, a little bit of beauty goes a long way in feeding our soul.

How do you nourish your soul and spirit? What are some of your favorite ways to relax and recharge?

This is part of my 31 Days series - you can read the other posts here. 

{31 Days} Day 17: How to Love Dressing Up

Saturday, October 26, 2013

I love dressing up  - in case you haven't been able to tell! Even though life is busy, each day is full of challenges and tasks, and getting dressed up requires energy and a bit of thought...I simply love it. Being a woman is such a wonderful gift, so why should we not enjoy our femininity by choosing beauty in our day to day life, as Clare said

There are plenty of days when I don't feel pretty, or am tired, or not in the best mood. But I've found that spending just 20-30 minutes to get dressed in a cute outfit, brush my hair, add some accessories, and adding a bit of make-up makes such a difference for my mood and instantly makes the rest of the day better! 
After all, it doesn't matter how crazy things get as long as you look good, right? ;)

At least, that's my philosophy. As a sophomore college student balancing 17 hours, a part-time job, and being involved in my residential dorm as well as church, I stay extremely busy! But that doesn't mean I have to sacrifice style and looking put-together just because my to-do list is long. I think some people believe, 'I'm too busy to dress up, I just don't have time, plus I can always do that later when I'm an adult, have a job, and am out in the real world...'

But why wait? What's the fun in that? Dress up now!

I'm known among my classmates as the girl who dresses up and have had multiple friends (including guys) ask me, "what's the occasion?" To which I always reply, "It's a school day!"

Sometimes it's as simple as a wearing a nice coat instead of a sweatshirt. I love adding heels and jewelry for an instant dressy outer look. Not only does dressing up showcase your style, but it also reflects professionalism and maturity. I always feel more mature and sophisticated as a college student when I'm dressed in nicer clothes. 

Of course, dressing up doesn't mean head-to-toe formal every day...this is one of my favorite casual weekend combos that I repeat with different colors/pieces. Cardigans, scarves, and cute wedges added a fun, fall-themed lift to this outfit. 

I also love dressing up for the beach or sunny days by wearing bright colors and head scarves.

Even plain, solid dresses like this blue one can go from casual day to a more chic, evening formal outfit that works for church, dinner out, or even an event. Just add some lovely tall heels (if you're petite, like me), a sparkly cardigan, and sweep your hair up and voila!

Have fun with it! After all, what better way to show off your style? 

What's your favorite way to dress up? I'd love to know!