Sunday, November 2, 2014

the dirty word

Expectation.

It's a word of death.

Death to relationships.

A close friend spoke some hard truth to me seven or eight years ago, while I was living in California. At the time, my feelings hurt because she hadn't had much time to spend with me, and I felt like maybe I cared more about her friendship than she did mine. It's not a good feeling to feel like you're in an uneven relationship, is it? And in wisdom she warned me that those unspoken expectations I had in my mind about what she "had to do" if she was a "real friend" would kill the friendship quickly. She didn't stop there. She went further and warned me that she noticed I had placed expectations over relationships with everyone in my life- my parents, my family, my friends, my husband. All of them had certain unmentioned bars, so to speak, that they had to achieve or else I was convinced they didn't really love me.

I don't know where that came from....that scale I set that let me protect isolate my heart. I don't have traumatic stories from my childhood or bad breakup stories from my youth. But still they were there. Stealing relationships and threatening to cause me to become an island unto myself.

It's because those words convicted my heart so strongly that they have stayed with me through the years. I still see them creep into my heart, if I'm not guarding it vigilantly. And I see them in others. Because I'm looking for those ugly expectations.... the dirty laundry list of made-up tasks to prove a person's/relationship's worth.

And every time I identify them, they make me ANGRY. I would argue it's a just anger.

Expectations are so destructive! They take relationships and remove the grace. In the devastated ruins of expectations, there isn't room for understanding of busy seasons of life, or differences in how people relate, or favorite methods of communication. Instead there is a refusal to accept love that isn't being shown in just the right way.

Or not enough.

Or not in time.








But where expectations kill, grace breathes life. When those imaginary lines we draw in the sand for others to prove they value us are erased, there is understanding. Understanding for what? For busy schedules. For different love languages. For failed attempts, time after time after time.

What if, when the phone call doesn't come, we respond with a reiteration of our knowledge that they still indeed value us because years can't be erased by days. Or weeks. Or even other years.

What if, when they stayed late at work "again," we pointed to our hearts the love notes that were left, or the favorite candy that was brought home, or the broken drawer that was fixed? And we realize that we all show love in different ways.... and that one way isn't better than another.

What if, instead of assuming what they must do in other relationships, we look for the ways that our relationship is special and unique to us because we are unique and no two relationships can be alike... and different love doesn't mean unequal love.

Wouldn't that change things? Wouldn't that make the load lighter?

Every time I am greeted with grace in a relationship, I am renewed in my determination to replace expectations with grace.

I'm still horrible at grace. In every sense of the word.

But at least that gives me something to work on.


live to learn

I'm convinced that we'll learn a lot in this life if we just keep our eyes open.

I was standing in the Target checkout line. Henry was asleep in his carrier and the older two boys were at home playing a rousing game of FIGHT with Daddy. And as I wait for my turn with the cashier, I pass the time scrolling through my cartwheel app, trying to add coupons for my groceries that day.

As I scroll, I can hear the father in line behind me admonishing his boys repeatedly to stay behind me and give me space. But you see, I was standing in front of the candy bars and gum. Who can resist that?! And so "Boys, stay back! Give that lady space!" became the background music. (Side note: I've achieved "lady" status now!?!? Might as well give me a walker and admit me to the home, dude-guy! Thanks for that gift.)

My turn. How-about-that-weather chatter with the cashier. And then I lay eyes upon the candy-lovers. Two boys, 8sih and 12ish. "Um, excuse me. Do you need help putting the bagged groceries into your cart?" I melted a little bit, and started to thank them but insist I could get it. Girl power, and all that jazz. And then I stopped halfway through my "No, but th-"

I realized that if they were MY sons who were offering to serve someone, I would want that person to let them. It's easy to be strong and independent. It's hard to lay down your pride and let others help you. But if we don't give people the opportunities to surrender themselves to us, we take away the joy they'd get from doing it. It's funny..the way that works.... When someone offers to serve us, we can serve THEM by letting them serve us. And I'll be honest, it's that truth I clung to when I let those two little guys serve me. If I had said no, I would have robbed them of that service; of the joy they got from doing it.

And so the register beeped as it scanned each bar code, the boys lifted each bag into the cart, and the cashier listened in participation as the boys' father and I chatted. I had questions for him- because obviously he was raising boys to be admirable, and he was just a season ahead of me. I was taking mental notes furiously.

And when my cart was full (and my wallet was empty), I slipped the dad a $5 and asked him to let the boys pick out a treat from that darned wall of candy bars. And we exchanged parental looks of gratitude on both our behalves. His because of the opportunity his kids received and the small thank-you for a job done well. And mine for a very profound understanding of the road ahead of me. Because oh, how I'd love to turn those tables one day...how I hope to be the mom watching her boys serve the young mother in front of us.

To the father of those two boys, who made sure they offered to help: thank you. 

Thanks for preparing those two boys to be a gift to the world. To make the load lighter for those around them.

And thanks for showing me what it looks like to parent my sons well- with real life as a teacher.

I accept the challenge.

Friday, October 31, 2014

more on 2014-2015 style trends

So in the previous blog post, I talked about the biggest fashion trend right now: grunge. Distressed denim, flannel shirts, and lots of oversized anythings. BUT that doesn't mean that's the only option for those who want to be current in their style. It's just the biggest one! But there are also a few other options!

Instagrammer @TRUELANE wearing the trends: American (Aztec), grunge (oversized cardi and black jeans), 
athletic (baseball hat), and preppy (stripes).

Preppy. A classic. Always in style. Think leopard print, cable knit sweaters, and corduroy. Use bright colors in fun combinations or stick with the classics. It's all good here!

Athletic. As in baseball hats, but with a current twist. Think flannel or leather or monogram. Make it a little dressier and pair it with a blazer and pair of jeans. Hello, great solution to a bad hair day.... and yet it looks like you still made an effort.

American. Yes, kind of like American Indian. So: leather, fringe, aztec prints, moccasins, and the like. And the best part? It's sooooo comfortable!!!

Now here's where it gets interesting: mixing trends is a beautifully successful way to create your personal style. I love to mix grunge with American. Or athletic with preppy. For example, a camel colored cable knit sweater goes really well with a black leather baseball hat. And my fringe ankle moccs are fun to wear with a haphazardly-tucked flannel shirt....plus topknot and lipstick. So what is that? Three trends in one: American, grunge, preppy?

And the combinations are endless. So what are you waiting for?

Do YOU. :)


Friday, October 17, 2014

fall/winter 2015- the style issue

 

So listen.

I've been trying to simmer down the "must have" trends of fall/winter 2014 since InStyle's Fall Fashion Issue came out months ago.... and it's just hard because I don't need to re-write the issue and go over EVERY trend out there. If that's what you want, just go get the mag! But I also leave a lot out if I only tell you my favorites. So we are going to play a little game. I'm going to spew out words/trends/must-have items for this fall and winter, and then I'll try to attach a picture to it for those who are visual.

But really it all boils down to this: we are channeling the 1990's, folks. Sure, that means things like overalls, mom jeans, baggy flannel, Birkenstocks, and Doc Martins are back. And if that fits your style, then that's easy! But if it doesn't, you're going to have to work a little harder if you want to embrace the trends while staying true to your own style...which is what I would consider my ultimate goal for myself.

I find my favorite way to incorporate these trends is to mix the torn, worn, and oversized with preppy or uber-feminine. This keeps me from feeling like I need a bath at all times, YET I am able to stay current and wear things in a fresh new way for me since the first time they came around.

So, here is how I have translated that for my closet:


Distressed Denim. (i mean really distressed. think massive holes.)





Black Jeans (rock 'n roll, baby)




Boyfriend-style Pants (pants, cords, etc. because 1990's grunge is most definitely not fitted)





Oversized Chunky Sweaters (all the better for tying around one's waist when you get too hot)





Loose Flannel Shirts (you can still keep a great silhouette if you tuck the front, creating a visual waist)





Fun Baseball Hats (jcrew or forever21 have great versions of these!)





Floppy Hats (great for a red lip with a baggy sweater)





Stacks of Petite Jewelry (doesn't matter the metal. but put a ring on every finger and a stack up your arm)



Chelsea boots (pick black to go with your black jeans! grunge, ya'll.)




Loafers (of ANY kind- laces or penny.)




And your fail-safes: leopard, leather, fringe, and fur. On repeat.


And here is a Fall-Tip-Freebie: when you wear ankle boots, you MUST roll your jeans. Jeans should hit 2" above the top of your ankle boot. You don't want the jeans floating up in the high heavens, nor do you want them to touch the top of your boot!! 


Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand: GO!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

a game changer

I heard something several years ago.

It changed me.

It changed the way I have since lived, online.

Blogging...facebooking....instagramming.... the content I post to all of these places now goes through the filter of this advice: 


Every post/update/picture you choose to write will determine who your audience is. 


Let me explain.

It was a photographer friend of mine who said those words to me, and we were talking about her photography business- because this applies to businesses as well. And because I was blogging every day, trying to connect it with a season of my life where I was actively styling clients, she applied that concept to my blog. She explained that every post I chose to publish was a choice (and I have applied this to EVERY facebook status I have written since then, as well) that determined who my readers would be.
There isn't necessarily a right or wrong decision about who I wanted my audience to be, but it was worth knowing the effect each word was having. Every post about parenting would make non-parents feel disconnected. Every post about women's fashion would make guys believe they didn't have a reason to check in. Each post about Christ would potentially cause non-Christians to go somewhere else. So since then, before I post things in each of those categories (which is, collectively, juuuuuuust about every post I've ever written), I always stop for a minute and ask myself: "do I want to push ____ away?" It's a good system of checks and balances. It makes sure that what I want to say is THAT important to me. Do I want THOSE people connecting with me? Do I want to make THOSE people unfollow me?

Even on facebook.

I know it doesn't matter to some people. There are many who couldn't care less about what others think of their posts. They are going to say whatever they think because it's their page- and they can. But it matters to ME what others will "hear" from my fingers. Because I believe this is my testimony.

I want to change the way parts of my identity are stereotyped. I don't like the rep Christians get sometimes. I want to love others more than I love me, and I want to love God more than I love the whole lot of us. I don't like the way moms are sometimes portrayed. I can wear good jeans AND hold an intelligent conversation about the current state of global affairs. I want to change the way people think about those who like to get dressed in the morning. I'm not conceited, nor do I carelessly spend my money- nor am I rich and rolling in it. Et cetera. And if I can be those things but live it differently, then maybe people will disassociate some of the negativity toward "those types of people"- and that would be a win.

I filter what I say because I love people. And I want to make days brighter by being in them. And if I could say something funny instead of complaining, wouldn't it be nice to cause a laugh instead? Don't we all have enough to complain about anyway? I believe there is a time to be honest. I do! Sometimes I share "that article" even though I know it could ruffle feathers. But I believe there is a time to discuss controversial ways of thinking. But I don't believe social media is a very effective platform to do that, most times.

I choose what I SAY because it affects what I THINK. And I don't want to dwell on a bad day or a yucky point of view or a hard season of life. And when I talk about it, I stay in it. I don't want to stay there.

And I say certain things (and not others) because I want to inspire. And I like to believe that nuggets of inspiration can come from anywhere. I decided one day to only allow fb statuses/instagrammers/bloggers into my days that would offer me intelligence, love, appreciation, and inspiration. Everything and everyone else, I deleted or "unfollowed." Because I don't have time to spend with people who think they are the only right ones, or who want to spend their time talking about things that aren't working, or putting others down, or being careless with their words. And that decision went a long way to making me a happier person. And if I'm going to be so selective with what and who receive my time, I want to be those things to others in return.

And so I choose. I choose what goes out, and I choose what comes in.

Thank you for letting me in.

And thanks for being my "in."

I like to think we can change the world. 

_______
And this post was ironically supposed to be about something COMPLETELY different when I sat down to write. That concept was supposed to be the intro paragraph...... turns out there was more there to unpack. That's okay. There's always tomorrow.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

insta-faves

Okay, so I said it yesterday on facebook but I'll say it again: I LOVE INSTAGRAM. In my life, it's become a faster, more inspirational way to approach fashion and stay updated on the trends. I follow people of all budgets who provide links to the pieces they wear, I see pieces worn by those who have the same style I do, I find new ways to wear the pieces I have, and I get to filter it all: people with my style and my life-stage. Or not! And it's such a fun community. I have made insta-friends with several women around the world and it's always fun supporting each other: drawn by love of fashion or love of our sons or love of food!

I have a whole folder on my phone dedicated to screen shots of outfits I love- and when I'm in a funk and don't know what to wear in the morning, I scroll through those pictures to find something that rings my bell that day. And while I still poured over every page of the fall fashion issue of InStyle, I certainly find more success and more inspiration from those personal photo blogs of stylish PEOPLE.

Here are the girls I cannot get enough of: (you can click on their names for a link directly to their insta-page)

Curated Cool, my favorite Aussie:

shalicenoel, THE most stylish mama I can find on the world wide web:

Damsel in Dior, a style guru in L.A.:

aninebing, a mom slash model slash designer on the west coast:

marissawebb, the new fashion director for Banana Republic:

And last but not least is truelane, a stylist from Minneapolis:


There are others, but these are the handful of women that inspire me most of all.

These aren't the only gals out there, though! Need recommendations?

For those of you with a preppier style, I will send you to kerriemburke, moodygirlinstyle, amcates, and seersuckerandsaddles.

If you consider yourself to be a sleeker, less formal version of preppy, check out couldihavethat and hellofashionblog.

So listen, now that I have told you my favorites, shoot yours my way and help a sistah out! After all, one girl's favorite is another girls.....also favorite??

Lauren, out.




you can read this post AND MORE at my other 
Click on the title to go straight there!

those dang blasted oils

Soooooooo, I'm a little bit crunchy and a little bit not. I live somewhere in between the two often-times-warring schools of thought: embracing vaccines AND holistic/natural healing. I think medicine is necessary and great- but I also think we can do a lot to heal our bodies without it! And around May I made my first purchase of doTerra essential oils.

Since then, I've been testing their worth. I want to see what they're made of and whether they deserve all the hype they're getting. So I started by applying them topically. And every hit from allergies, bug bites and wonky cold bugs received a figurative "fist" of oils as I battled back. And... I'm pretty happy with them! They haven't proven to be miracle cures for anything in my life, but their effects certainly compare to the meds that can be taken for all the things we have tried them out on. So that's a win in my book. Of course the true test, in my opinion, will be this winter. Dear flu bug: please don't come here.

Along with applying the oils topically, they can be ingested (taken internally) or diffused into the air. About two months ago I had the opportunity to test out a diffuser from Sarah, a friend I have made in the online oils community. She is a Registered Nurse and mother of four- soon to be five! On facebook she goes by the name "oilRN" and always gives out helpful tips that I greatly appreciate. And as luck would have it, she was looking for people to try a diffuser at the same time I was looking for a diffuser to try! So I volunteered to give my honest feedback in exchange for the chance to try one of the most-recommended ways to use oils.



Working the diffuser proved to be easy! There are two buttons: the power button and the timer button. I can live with that. You can choose to either have it run continuously, which is what I did in bedrooms when I was addressing some symptoms, or set it to function on a timer that spans 24 hours, which I did in our common living area for a boost for our immune systems. 

I took my time before I reviewed it. I needed to see what I really thought of it. And I always enter this kind of stuff with a skeptic's heart. I expected nothing. But truthfully- I find the diffuser to be one of my favorite ways to use oils. During my trial run, I tested immunity boosts in our main living space: it took the cold that was going around and lasting for several days, and made them less-than-24-hour bugs. I used the Breathe blend and found it provided relief for allergies AND cold stuffiness every time. And when Roman got a fever, I put an antibacterial/fever combo in the diffuser and his fever left sometime during the night. And stayed gone.

So I'm pretty in love with this new black machine in my home. I liked it so much that I will be grabbing diffusers for every bedroom. Healthy family, happy mom.

When I let Sarah know that I felt I had enough experience with the diffuser to let you know what I thought, she offered the chance to get them on sale if you purchase them through her! Go to www.oilrn.com or email her at sarah@oilrn.com to take advantage of the discount. She is offering 20% off with the code "heels20" and that's mighty kind of her. I'm going to have to start adding to my collection now, I think.

Thanks, Sarah, for the chance to keep learning about oils, for your quick replies to my questions via email, and for the chance to find my way in the world of diffusers. I'm beyond thrilled with my discoveries.