What I’m Reading on the Web

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Hey friends!

I just got home from two weeks in Redding, CA at Bethel Church’s worship school. It was an incredible experience that I can’t wait to write about, but first…rest.

My mind  and body both need a little breather before I dive in, so in the mean time I’ve been catching up with blogs and articles circling the web this week.

Here’s are my three favorite articles that I’m reading on this day (ok, two days) of rest.

1. Networking for Introverts by Cupcakes and Cashmere.
Why I like it: I get lectured about networking all the time during the school year, and this piece was a great way to sharpen up those skills even though school is out. It’s also great for newbies like me who may be a little intimidated by this whole networking thing.
Favorite line: “If the connection is real, it won’t require a calendar reminder.”

2. What I Instagram vs. What Was Really Happening, or My Entire Life is a Lie by Olivia Muenter
Why I like it: This lighthearted and sarcastic piece reveals a truth that most selfie-lovers are afraid to admit: we stage our Instagram posts to make our lives look prettier. This piece will make you laugh and think twice before you post your next gym selfie.
Favorite line:  “I start my day with green tea and fresh fruit everyday, at the crack of dawn. I like to check my emails as the sunrises, right before I head to yoga.”

3. Love and Lynchburg by Lexie Daché
Why I like it: I met Lexie and the Living Room Writers Weekend back in May, and I’ve loved following her blog ever since. Her writing is authentic and captivating, and I love the way she wrestles with life and always offers hope in the end. Her latest post, “Love and Lynchburg,” is definitely my new favorite.
Favorite line: “Physical surroundings and dream jobs and cool people are no comparison for God’s presence.”

Bonus: Fairytales are Real: These 12 Photos Will Change the Way You Look At the World by World of Wanderlust
Just because I felt like throwing a little pixie dust into the mix. Sometimes, when you’re as worn out as I am, it’s just nice to look at pretty things and dream.

Enjoy! I’ll be back soon with brand new adventures and stories to share with you.

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I Don’t Want to Explore Oxford

I wrote this piece last month while traveling through Europe for five weeks.

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I’m in Oxford, UK, and I don’t want to explore. Actually, exploring Oxford is the last thing I want to do right now.

Here’s the deal:
On a family trip to Colorado a few years ago, my mom and two brothers wanted to sit in a coffee shop and relax (I’ve heard it’s called “vacationing”), while my dad and I, ever the adventures, wanted to get out and see some of the beautiful state we were visiting.

So we left the lazy bums behind and headed to Black Canyon, which was covered in snow and SCARY slippery for us flatlanders. We almost died trying to see the view, but in the end we were left with a great memory.

From that moment on I’ve always poked fun at those who go to exotic places and choose to simply sit in a coffee shop or relax in their hotel rather than exploring.

Why would you waste your time doing nothing?

Well today, with one foot in my mouth, I’m writing this from a coffee shop in Oxford, UK, where I am simply sitting with no plans of exploring this quaint and historic university town.

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The C.S. Lewis nature reserve in Oxford

Usually I get up with the sun and hit the city, exploring as many streets as me feet can bear to take me down.

But today I can’t. Today, I’m tired. Really, really tired.

I’m tired of being on the go constantly, tired of a strict itinerary and, as much as I hate to say it, tired of sightseeing.

Today I need to rest, and more than that, I need to be okay with giving myself that luxury, even though it’s against every part of my nature.

Two things I’m trying to keep in mind:

1. I don’t need to see every site, learn every historical fact or take every artsy Instagram picture I can to experience all that a city has to offer.
2. If I want to keep traveling, keep sightseeing and keep up this pace, I need to take a break.

Although my schedule allows me to see amazing sights and experience even more of Europe than I even imagined, it isn’t sustainable. And it’s okay to give myself time to catch up.

IMG_6711And hey, if there’s anywhere I’m going to just sit in a coffee shop, read and write, what better place than Oxford? Some of my favorite authors spent time in this very city doing exactly what I’m doing today.

So, to anyone I’ve ever mocked or looked down upon for relaxing instead of exploring, I’m sorry. While I still don’t think spending an entire trip on your bum is the way to go, I now recognize that rest and rejuvenation are more than necessary to keep going.

And PS, I did end up exploring Oxford once my weary little soul was rested, and I loved it! Definitely a trip highlight that I wouldn’t have enjoyed if I was still exhausted.

How do you find rest when you’re traveling? Any tips for this newbie? 
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What Does it Mean to Feel Alive?

Warning: I’m a wee bit more spiritual with this piece that usual. Whatever your background, I appreciate you taking the time to read this post with an open mind.

Last month on a plane taking me from Texas to Tennessee, I read an article in Marie Claire about actress Shailene Woodley, and at the end of the article she told journalist Gaby Wood:

“I feel very alive right now. More alive than I’ve ever felt.”

And I wonder, what does it mean to feel alive? And how do we feel more alive in some seasons of life than others?

Were we dead before? Or not living fully?

For Shailene, feeling alive came after she took a break from working. Do we feel more alive when we are striving less?

From a Christian perspective, this is my conclusion:

I think it has to do with joy.

When we feel joy.
When we have joy.
When we know joy.
That’s when we feel alive.

For some context, you can read about my take on joy and why I’m so passionate about finding adventure in everyday life here.

Joy, when we let it, can be like a loyal friend that we travel through life with. The friendship isn’t based on circumstances, success or even “having it all together.” Joy, once we learn to value it, will always stick around.

And when we have joy, we come alive. We come alive not because our work, social or spiritual life is flourishing. We come alive because in whatever we do, we have joy.

Having joy looks different for different people, and in different situations. Sometimes it’s simple: you love where you are and who you are, so you are naturally joyful.

Other times it isn’t so easy. You are less than passionate about your current situation, so instead of it coming naturally, you have to find joy. You have to pursue it.

If this is you, I challenge you to do one thing: pursue joy. Choose to find it and keep it.

For a Christian, pursuing joy means pursuing the Lord, the giver of our hope and joy.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

There was a time in my life that happiness wasn’t present. I was lost and didn’t know who I was, but because the Lord was still with me, holding onto me even in my desperation, there was joy.

Happiness is fleeting and dependent on circumstances. Joy is an eternal journey.

Keeping joy, once you’ve found it, is easier than you’d think. It’s like maintaining a relationship with your closest friend: it’s natural and almost second nature. You must simply choose it.

Wherever you are, find joy. You may love your current city, job, friend group and self right now, or you may not. Pursue joy anyway, and you will feel alive.

You will be thankful, passionate and loving with joy by your side.

With joy, you can rest. You can strive less and let go of perfectionism. And I think that’s what Shailene Woodley found. Her spiritual life is different from mine, and I don’t know if she pursued the Lord to find her rest, but it was still rest that made her feel more alive than she’s ever felt.

For Christians, finding rest happens when we let the down our walls, let go of the need to perform and let the Lord love us fully. That’s where true joy lies. That’s where we are completely alive.
Photo credit: Fashion Scans Remastered. 
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Restless thoughts about resting

It’s Friday night, and I don’t want to go out.

This is pretty uncharacteristic for me, as I usually always want to do something fun or go somewhere new. Even if it’s as simple as going out for ice cream, I’m always up for something.

But tonight, I’m tired.

I wrestle with the idea of giving myself rest because I tend to see doing nothing as a waste of time. I have major self-diagnosed FOMO (fear of missing out), so anytime I stay home I’m convinced that there is something else exciting going on without with me that will never happen again, so staying home was basically the worst decision of my life.

Last Friday night I was in NYC, so this boring, I mean restful, Friday night is pretty unsatisfying.

Last Friday night I was in NYC, so this boring, I mean restful, Friday night is pretty unsatisfying.

I constantly have to tell myself that resting is not doing nothing or a waste of time. If I want to seek out more adventures, or simply make it through another week, rest is nonnegotiable. Maybe it was flying from Tennessee to Texas to New York and back last week, or coming home and having no time to process or recuperate from the trip because school and work don’t understand the idea of a “traveling hangover,” or even that I’ve changed my diet and my body still adjusting to life without carbs, but one way or another, my body has had enough, and eventually I have to succumb to it’s demands for rest.

I just wish I didn’t have to succumb on a Friday night. If this were a Thursday night I could easily say I have to “study” and happily give myself some downtime. But tonight is Friday, and I have to rest. So if you don’t mind, I’ll be in my room watching a movie, reading magazines, working on my blog and maybe even crocheting. I know, I’m a grandma. But if I want to wake up in the morning and feel like a 21 year old again, grandma’s gotta relax.

restSo why am I even writing this? Because I started a blog all about adventures, and staying home on a Friday night makes me feel not very adventurous at all. But hey, people need rest, and I’m learning that staying in on a Friday night, or simply taking a break from pushing myself to my physical limits because I always have to be doing something, does not make me a more or less adventurous person. It just makes me a person with a body that needs a break from the constant demands I put on it.

I think this is a lesson that everyone can learn: we need more rest. We need to slow down and give ourselves a chance to breathe, catch up and process the ins and outs of our daily lives. So this weekend, intentionally do one thing that is purely restful for you. Whether it’s time by yourself, taking a stroll, worshipping or reading a good book, stop and rest. Your body, and your future adventures, will thank you.

How do you find rest?