I’ve learned a few things in my first month of marriage.
I know, I know. One month hardly seems like enough time for two newlyweds to come to any major conclusions about marriage. At least, not compared to couples like my parents who are coming up on 33 years of marriage this May (so grateful for them and their beautiful example of love!).
And yet, that paradox is part of what’s struck me this month: Marriage is at once a marathon and a sprint. It’s long – thank goodness, because we’re going to need all the time we can get to strengthen and enjoy these beautiful bonds that are forming – and it’s fast – so much has changed in such a short period of time. Continue reading
Tonight I watched the sunset from my bed. Curled up with my blue blanket and a mug of cinnamon tea, I was struck by how fast the colors changed and how quickly the dark clouds moved as they swept past the hills.
It’s been remarkably stormy here in California. And while we need the rain after years of drought, it’s been devastating for some. Day after day, the rain has pounded on the roof of the little yellow house I call home in San Francisco…home for two more weeks before James and I tie the knot and move to Los Angeles.
The rain certainly hasn’t made this transition easy. As we’ve made Target runs for bubble wrap and packing tape and dashes to the car with boxes of Goodwill donations in tow, we’ve gotten more than just a little bit sprinkled on.
But the annoyance of having to manage moving logistics in the midst of one of the biggest storms we’ve seen in years is only part of my issue with this rain. The worst part is the darkness.
“Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”
We say that a lot around the office. Probably because we’re all a bunch of perfectionists brought together (strategically) for the common goal of creating something great. And we’re all constantly battling the desire to make something perfect – instead of just making something great.
Even with that statement, my bias reveals itself. Like so many others, I frequently buy into the idea that “great” is just that: great, but not perfect. And wouldn’t perfect be so much better?
Most companies are looking for people who won’t settle for less than the absolute best and who will work tirelessly to achieve greatness – both for the organization and for their own careers. And most people (if they’re honest) would really like perfect. Perfect is what many of us tell ourselves we should be.
And yet, perfection is an illusion because there’s always something more we can do, something better. We can never reach perfection, but we keep driving toward it, and that keeps us endlessly spinning and pushing and running. Continue reading
No one imagined our Thanksgiving table talk would end in tears. As we went around the table sharing what we were each thankful for, we couldn’t have anticipated my sister and I would soon be standing in the kitchen, sobbing, holding each other close.
And yet, that’s exactly how this year’s Thanksgiving meal ended. With only scraps of turkey and stuffing and lingering bits of glazed carrots and mashed potatoes left on our plates, we all went around the table sharing the things, the people, the moments we were most grateful for.
We all had similar sentiments. We were grateful for family, for each other, for the new baby sleeping peacefully by my sister’s side – my beautiful nephew. And, in some ways, we were even grateful for the pain that had brought us this beauty. We recognized that the discomfort of the unknown was also bringing us exciting new challenges and opportunities we hadn’t even discovered yet. Continue reading
For the past couple weeks, I’ve stepped out of my apartment onto the streets of the Inner Sunset, and it looks like fall.
Even in the midst of our heat wave – in San Francisco, where no one has A/C, 85 degrees feels sweltering – it was still clear that summer was gone and fall was coming.
It’s something about the light. The sun casts longer shadows across the ground, and the sunsets are tinged with a distinctly pink and gold hue, causing the clouds to look like great big puffs of cotton candy. One last hurrah for the season that’s behind us.
At the farmer’s market, stone fruits are slowly being replaced by apples and figs and pomegranates, and the berries have lost their peak-of-summer sweetness.
PSL’s are popping up at every coffee shop, and Trader Joe’s is well-stocked with all things pumpkin.
Fall is normally my favorite season. And yet, this year, I didn’t feel ready. I wasn’t rushing to my closet for sweaters and boots. Partly because we wear them year-round in the city, but also because I didn’t want the seasons to change. Not yet. Continue reading
The eve of my 30th birthday was relatively quiet. I chopped rainbow carrots and kale in my little San Francisco kitchen. I did not turn on the TV or listen to music. I resisted the urge to fill the space with noise. Instead, I washed the kale and peeled the carrots. I minced garlic and stirred it around with olive oil and cumin and coriander.
I listened to the sound of the knife on the cutting board, and savored the aromas filling the room.
I reflected back on my day – how busy it felt, like I was moving too fast and yet not getting enough done. How I kept having to remind myself to slow down. As my boss would say wisely, “This is PR. Not the ER.”
I carried that purposeful slowness into my evening. Letting my body and mind rest after a day of post-vacation email pile-up. Not avoiding it, but not worrying about it too much either. Sometimes you just have to hug the slog.
Much like excelling in the workplace, cooking from scratch requires patience and a methodical commitment. It requires focus and time. And if you’re going to enjoy the process, it requires slowing down and being present.
This is the greatest truth I’ve discovered in my 20s. Slowness. Savoring. It’s the truth I want to carry into my 30s. The gift I want to give to others. Continue reading
This Part 2 in a two-part series on what practicing yoga has taught me. If you missed it, catch Part 1 here.
6. Let go. Being present on the mat requires letting go of anything outside of your mat for that hour. Your posture is not one of control and striving, but rather openness and malleability.
So often, I find myself having a breakthrough during class. My mind relaxes, and I receive an answer to a question I’ve been pondering or a conflict I’ve been working through.
Isn’t this so often how God works? When we let go of our preconceived notions of what He can do – or what we can do with Him – we allow Him to enter the spaces where we feel most weak and strengthen us. He always surprises me with His goodness.
But this first requires opening up to Him. Continue reading
Friends, I’m writing a book on what I’ve learned while recovering from perfectionism. If you’d like to join in on the journey, subscribe here for sneak peeks and personal encouragement I only share over email.
Back when I was working for RELEVANT Magazine, I wrote a piece about how yoga had helped me become more comfortable in my own skin. How it had helped me embrace my body’s strength instead of hyper-focusing on the bits I wished I could change – the chicken pox scars, the stretch marks, the knobby knees.
The article resonated with other people who saw themselves in my story. They were on their own journeys toward self-acceptance, and they appreciated that I was offering an honest look into my struggles. But here’s the thing about being vulnerable – especially in a public forum – it opens you up to scrutiny and often to resulting criticism. On this particular piece, a handful of critics posted strongly-worded comments – mostly expressing dismay at my references to yoga.
They claimed that yoga is “the devil’s tool.” That it’s the equivalent of witchcraft.
On the one hand, I can see where these people are coming from. Anything can be destructive if it takes God’s place as the Ultimate Provider, Savior, Comforter, and Redeemer of our lives. Anything can be the “devil’s tool” – even really good things like food and music and marriage and family and, yes, yoga.
But those things can also be really really good – as long as they play a supporting role in our lives. They’re good gifts from a good father, not The Gift (James 1:17).
There he was. The evidence of this morning’s #kitchenfail. The sesame seed. Just sitting there, between the “x” and the “c” keys, taunting me as I sat down to write.
He’d won out this morning. He’d gotten the best of me. But this afternoon, his presence only made me smile. The last lingering remnant of a cookie recipe gone awry, he reminded me that there was grace for my mistakes. That the whole day didn’t have to go in the garbage just because that seemed to be the destiny of my cookies. That my kitchen failure was an integral part of this sunny Saturday.
I’d woken early. The sun streaming through my windows at 6:30am. My blackout curtains no match for the bright beams.
Rather than reach for my eye mask and attempt to sleep a bit longer, I decided to rise early and get a head start on the day.
Inspired by the food magazine I’d been reading before bed the night before, I somehow got it in my head that tahini honey cookies were the exact right dessert to bring to the dinner party we’d be going to later that evening. That and a Napa Valley Zinfandel.
As I got to work on the cookies, I quickly realized that the coconut flour I had thought would be a fine substitute for almond flour was not working out as well as I’d hoped. The aroma was heavenly. Vanilla and cinnamon. A slightly savory touch from the tahini and sweetness from the honey. And who can say no to the creamy quality of coconut?
I’ve been staring out the window of this coffee shop for more time than I’d like to admit. Watching the train go by every 10 or 15 minutes, looking up to see a dad walk by with his curly-haired daughter in his arms, seeing people pop open their umbrellas as the rain starts coming down harder.
I had every intention to write today – excited to finally have an afternoon with a few free hours. Between brunch at a new French restaurant in Hayes Valley and cooking dinner for a few of my girlfriends at my apartment in the Inner Sunset, I planned to hole up at my favorite coffee shop in the Haight and open my laptop to type out the words that had been floating in my head all week. To pull together the thoughts that I’ve jotted down in the notes app of my phone, waiting to come to life in a blog post or a new addition to Enough.
But once I actually got the white space I craved – the margins to write and process – I got stuck. I’d gotten so used to the running-around, back-to-back meetings lifestyle that it took me a while to settle down, calm my mind, and allow the words to come out.
The older I get, the more it feels like life is getting pushed up into the margins. Like there’s very little white space left.
Instead, my calendar is a mosaic of meetings and birthday parties and church events with a handful of dates with James and family gatherings thrown in to keep me sane.
But I don’t feel especially sane. I feel a little frenzied.
If my life were a book, the words would be bleeding across each page, no room for my eye to rest or to simply pause for a minute to make sense of what’s happening. If it weren’t for moments of connection with my dear friends and family, I’d lose it for sure.
Although, I have lost something. Something I long to get back. Something I cultivated over the last year – especially during my month-long sabbatical – that I know I need. And that’s the practice of silence and solitude. Continue reading