Defining Your Home Team


I've written about the concept of the home team a lot on my blog, either in entire pieces or in small references, so I was excited when I got the chance to expound upon this topic for Darling Magazine. In my most recent post for Darling's blog, I wrote about the importance of defining the members of your squad. Shauna Niequist, the author who introduced me to this concept in the first place, makes great points about the importance of not only knowing who is in your home team but also being aware of who is not. Here's a little peek at the piece:

"[Niequist's words] got me to thinking about continually seeking intentionality in relationships. Especially in this day and age of instant connectivity and constant communication, it’s easy to feel connected and close to a myriad of people from all different walks of life. And while that may be perfect for some people, it’s not the right fit for me. I know that I crave quality time with the people I love, and because there’s only so many hours in the day, I have to be realistic about who I’m giving my time and love and trust to — and when, and why."

Head over to Darling's blog to read the post and let me know what you think about the idea of having a home team! I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Above: a favorite photo of Laura & Kyla at the best taco shop in town

A Fresh Start


Isn't it funny how much easier it feels to turn over new leaf on the first day of the month (especially when the first falls on a Monday)? I don't know about you but I love fresh starts, and even though I'm always invigorated by the start of a new year (well, except for this year maybe), I find myself feeling rejuvenated, motivated, and inspired in a brand new way when I flip the calendar to the next month. So many of life's bigger blessings inspire me - travel, nature, relationships, service - but so many little ones, like books and restaurants and gorgeous photos and the first day of the month, provide a surge of creativity and revitalization, too.

Early on in January, I shared a post on Darling's blog about some resolutions that could help us find our spark this year. I wanted to write about creative ways to set resolutions instead of always defaulting to the typical, generic goals of living a healthier lifestyle, saving money, and pursuing happiness. Those are wonderful resolutions, to be sure, but I wanted to inspire readers to take a chance, do something a little different, and really push themselves to achieve the lofty dreams they have, bringing them into reality and making them happen.  I am revisiting that piece today as I'm reveling in my newfound sense of inspiration, and I am plotting out the things I can do to keep this energy flowing. Don't feel the same way on the first of the month (especially when it falls on a Monday?). Last spring I wrote this post about being stuck in a rut, and to this day it remains one of my favorite pieces that I've written. I actually wrote the piece while I was in a rut myself and it was a therapeutic process that actually helped me find inspiration in a variety of ways.

So here's to you on this Monday, February the first - whether you feel ready to embrace a fresh start or ready to dive back into bed, I salute you, friend. Keep on trucking and persevering, regardless of how you feel. Inspiration is out there just waiting for you to seize it.

Image via Madi Ellis for Darling Magazine

Presence > Presents


This post may be coming a little late, considering that it's Christmas Eve already (!!!), but I thought I'd share my most recent piece for Darling Magazine about 3 Ways to Add Presence to Your Holiday Celebrations. This was my favorite piece to write for Darlng (yet!), and I hope it can be a sweet last-minute reminder to cherish the time you have with loved ones this Christmas. Here's a little excerpt from the piece:

In this season, there will always be more to do — more cards to write, more gifts to buy, more parties to attend, more people to see. But what if this year we opt for a little less, not in an attempt to sacrifice the richness of this season but rather in hopes of giving our loved ones the gift of presence?

What if we strove to connect more intentionally with one another by saying no to invitations, taking a break from social media, and really living in the moment? Though we may have less on our calendars this holiday season, we may find that we end up with so much more joy.

Head on over to Darling's blog to read my tips for engaging with your loved ones in a more committed, intentional way this Christmas! And enjoy your celebrations with family & friends!

Image via Madison Holmlund

Should You Quit?


Last month I was assigned a really interesting topic for my most recent post on Darling Magazine's blog. My editor asked me to write a piece that explored the reasons why we should stay in a tough job when the going gets rough and compare them to the reasons that justify a transition into pursuing something new. This post took me a while to write; I was surprised by how much this topic consumed my time and energy.

As the writing started to flow, I realized I had been caught up in the premise because there's such a strong tension that exists between today's world of living-for-the-moment, the same attitude that pushes us to chase our dreams no matter the cost (causing us to want to quit any job that doesn't seem perfect), and the character development that's built from sticking it out in a job that may not be our passion but gives us the space to explore who we are and who we want to become (which, though this cultivates personal achievement, could hold us back from professional gain). I began to wonder which option was best, and if there was a healthy middle ground between the two choices that could provide a sense of balance and stability.

I came up with three reasons why we should consider quitting our jobs (when there's no more room for growth, when we're opening our own businesses, when the office culture is abusive or derogatory) and three reasons that build the argument that we should stay (when the positives outweigh the negatives, when the going gets tough, when relationships can become resources). I found so much personal value in writing this piece, as it challenged me to explore an area that I had previously not given much thought. Hop on over to Darling's blog to read the whole piece, and let me know what you think!

Image via The Everygirl

On Tech & Disconnecting


I am settling back into my routine after returning from another wonderful trip to Ghana! I am so grateful for all of the amazing travel experiences my job with Touch A Life has afforded me, but this past week was one of my favorites of all time. The team, comprised of 22 volunteers and supporters, was just so, so wonderful. There were so many moments when we were at the Care Center that I found myself looking around at our incredible crew as they interacted with the kids and staff. We hosted a yoga retreat at the facility over the weekend, which was just the absolute best, and the children all had their medical and dental assessments completed thanks to our rock star volunteer physician and dentist. There was a fierce sand volleyball tournament, tons of crafting projects in the Art Center, and plenty of bonding with the kids.

Our trips are always about the children we serve, first and foremost, but as I reflect on our week, I keep reveling in how stellar the team from the U.S. was, how passionate they are about Touch A Life and how a mentality of gratitude seemed to cloak every single person as they savored their time in Ghana. It was really special.

While I was there, my phone made itself scarce - whether it was lost or stolen or simply misplaced, I don't know, but it went rogue halfway through the trip. I was annoyed, to be sure, mostly because I wasn't interested in shelling out cash for a new device once I got home. But then a moment of clarity passed over me, and I felt pleased that I was able to disconnect from everything that tends to creep into my mind via my phone even when I'm in the most sacred of spaces. Sure, it made it easier knowing that I could get in touch with James or my family if I needed to by using someone else's phone - I wasn't totally stranded or off the grid - but I loved not having a device at my fingertips.

I procrastinated on buying a new phone when I got home, and since I've returned, I've lost touch with the gravitational pull towards my social media feeds and text messages, which is something I've wanted to do, but failed at, for some time now. I even (finally) bought an alarm clock so I can keep my phone charging in a separate room at night (instead of using it to wake me up each morning), preventing any temptation to delve into the world of email before falling asleep.

Coincidentally (though not on purpose, lest you think I lost my phone as a social experiment), I wrote a post about social media usage for Darling Magazine that was published on Monday, the day I got back into action after recovering from jet lag, and I understood what I had written so much more acutely after having been disconnected with technology myself. I'd love it if you took a peek at the piece and let me know what you think. For now, here's a taste of what's in store:

"...if we're relying solely on an online community to validate our character or our opinions, without having a real life community in place to balance out this feedback, we may be missing the point.

The point is that bonding with a group of people gathering in an online forum is important, but so is intimately connecting with the loved ones with whom we interact in real life, face-to-face. Relationships that withstand the test of time are the ones in which we’re honest and real, both online and in person, and solely relying on the commentary from those with whom we communicate through screens can be detrimental."

For the rest of the post, hop on over to Darling's blog!

Image via The Girl With The Curl