I SEE YOU

I've been reading and hearing this phrase, "I see you," a lot in the media. I've heard Michelle Obama use it, and, most recently, Viola Davis in her tribute to Meryl Streep. It implies a deeper seeing than the surface. It refers to a true understanding and knowing of someone and their motives. It also means that you are not ignoring their voice or actions. I love this phrase and it's meaning so much, especially in this visual digital world where we scroll and consume and read, but we aren't truly listening or understanding one another. 

It makes me sad and angry to know that it takes marches of thousands of people around the world to be heard, seen and understood. And I can't help but think about this on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and with the women's march approaching (January 21st, 2017). 

If I had one super power it would be to help people truly understand one another's desires and needs. And if I could eradicate one problem it would be selfishness. This way we could help meet one other's needs on this earth, and there wouldn't be a person left out (hopefully). But here's the truth: we can actually do have this power - to understand one another and deny our selfishness. 

I know this because this is the main challenge of a marriage. Ryan and I are together every single day, and have been for almost 10 years. We know each other extremely well, but there will never be a day when I know exactly what he is thinking 100% of the time. At the root of the fights that we have as a marriage couple is misunderstanding. What we have learned through marital counseling (everyone should go, btw), is that we need to ask follow up questions before responding with answers. Some example of that are:

"What I am hearing you say is...." repeat back what you have heard the other person say.
"How does this make you feel?" try to understand their feelings behind what they are saying.
"What do you need in this moment?" Most often there is a request or a need behind the discourse.

And then once we make sure to eliminate misunderstanding with clarifying questions we can respond. That doesn't always mean we can meet each others needs, but that usually leads to some sort of compromise.

We as a society can't even get to the point of a compromise. We are just shouting back and forth at each other right now. Let's seek to truly see each other and understand each other right now. Let's ask these questions to our friends and community that we don't see eye to eye with, and love them because they are living, breathing people God has made. 

Photos by Rennai Hoefer; glasses by J. Mclaughlin  

STYLE NOTES FROM STAR WARS

Long over long. Short over long. Tank over top. Dress over pants. Layering is a big trend for 2017, and I think we have Star Wars Jedi, Rey, to thank. I am especially excited for this trend for a couple reasons:

1. Layers are extremely functional for Arizona weather. We start in the 40's and end up in the 70's during our winter season. I'm constantly shedding layers and then adding them back on by the end of the day, but it's much better than being really cold for half of the day. 

2. I love this trend because of the amount of comfort and modesty it brings. I can wear a dress over my jeans and call it good. Lately, this ensemble of wearing my black jumpsuit over my t-shirt with a wrap has been on rotation. 

I haven't worn this jumpsuit in three years mainly because it's cut too low for me to wear a bra with it or bend down to play with my kids. Hooray for layers!

If you're nervous to wear layers because it may add volume to your silhouette try to find pieces that still give you a waistline like this romper or be sure to add a structured jacket on top like this denim one.

Photos by Rennai Hoefer

CHASING SLOW

Slow down time. I think every person that has walked this earth has wanted to slow down time or to add more hours to the day. I can't tell you how many women in the grocery store aisle or at the park have said to me, "It goes by so fast. Enjoy it while you can." I'm trying to, but it feels like I'm pulling back on a rope that is tied to a bull with my heels digging into the dirt - water skiing on dry land, if you will. So, when I picked up Erin Loechner's book to read it and I saw what the title was, Chasing Slow, I thought, well, this I have to read. 

After I read the first page I felt like I sat down with my best friend over coffee as she told me her story of moving to busy L.A., climbing a mountain of success, getting to the top only to realize the view was the same from the bottom and feeling tired and empty. She describes her dreamy success of one million followers on Pinterest, free product from companies, thousands of blog posts later of a pretty house, and she is utterly exhausted. This girl as even had a HGTV show before Joanna Gaines was a household name and traveled the world speaking at conferences before the age of 33. She has already had the "success" of what many Millennials dream of and what I have also tasted as a "pinner" and blogger as well. So, it felt like a breath of fresh air to hear her say, "Who knew more would make us feel like less." Amen, sister. Amen!

And even though generations after generations have said these same words in their own way, it felt better to hear it from my peer in her 30's. We live in a world that is vastly different from our parents, but the truths of life remain the same.  It's just that references to Pinterest, countless trips IKEA grabbing sheepskins and RIBBA frames help explain it so much better to 20 somethings and 30 somethings. Haha! 

There is so much truth spilled out over the pages and what she has learned from leaving the L.A. hustle behind to live in a small town in Ohio. And if you think she's going to tell you to go move to a small town too, you're guess is dead wrong. She points out the chase is still a chase no matter if you're chasing slow or fast, and so she gives some wise nuggets of how she is doing a new thing - enjoy her daily bread.

You can go get her book her on Amazon. 

Photos by Rennai Hoefer

 

SOCIAL MEDIA CHALLENGE TO MY MILLENNIALS

I'm a proud Millennial, and I'm tired of people always ripping us apart as if we are a generation to be pitied. People say we don't know how to connect personally and authentically because we are addicted to our phones and social media. And, while I would agree some of us could very well struggle in that arena and we can do a better job, these generalizations have my panties in a knot. What people often forget is that we made a way for everyone to have a voice to share what they are doing and how they are feeling to those that would listen. we created social media and adapted quickly to it because we have been raised by generations that hide their emotions and feelings as if there was a medal to be won for never crying or arguing in front of kids or saying you didn't like something. 

We were parented by the Baby Boomers that created the 50% divorce rate - the generation that grew up seen and not heard by The Greatest Generation. And, sadly, The Greatest Generation didn't have the luxury of emotions. They were just happy to be alive, so, of course, they told their children to just "be thankful and be quiet." 

Did you know that marriages of Millennials are lasting longer as reported by Bloomberg. We are actually putting hope and meaning back into marriage. Hooray! We are having emotional intimacy in our marriages and fighting for it. And I would bet a million dollars that it's the lack of emotional connectivity, expression of empathy and sympathy that the is culprit of the Baby Boomer generations continued decline of marriage (yes, they are still getting divorced according to the stats). 

But, we need to be careful how we're using our new found way of connection. We adapted quickly to social media without taking time to be intentional with it. We are sharing and liking and double-tapping so fast that we are just making noise now and not listening to each other anymore. Let's get back to that! Here's a challenge for us to help us continue to lead past and future generations in emotional connection. 

9 POINT SOCIAL MEDIA CHALLENGE

1. Say what we mean, and mean what we say. No more posting to post as if we're slaves to algorithms or imaginary Joneses. Be mindful that each post has the potential to influence people for good or bad, and take a moment to ask yourself, "Is this worth posting and will it hurt or help someone?"
2. Avoid mindless affirmations. When you double tap, like or repin something you are affirming a person, thing or business. Make your actions meaningful and not a twitch of your thumb. You may even accidentally like a post that you completely disagree with just because you didn't take time to read the post.
3. Read the captions. Take time to read and hear what people are saying. That's why they are sharing to begin with. If you don't want to hear what they have to say then maybe you shouldn't follow them. Let's have meaningful connections and interactions with the people we have chosen to invest in. 
4. Unfollow accounts that you don't enjoy or may go against your principles. People say that depression and self-esteem issues are on the rise because of social media. Part of that problem is the content we put out there and part of it is what we choose to consume. If something is leaving you feeling crappy take it out of your life. That doesn't mean we have to shut down our Instagram accounts and do the all or nothing approach. It means we should take inventory of what we consume.
5. When you see someone hurting or having a rough day please tell them they have been heard even if even you don't have advice or can't relate. Many times we take to social media with our problems because we want someone to listen or we're trying to find out if we're not alone. Take a moment to help.
6. Set limits and boundaries on what you share. Think about who reads your posts and who can potentially read them in the future. One day your children will read what you write and potentially future employers. Oversharing can be damaging when you don't set limitations.
7. Risk sharing some flaws in the midst of the beauty. Sharing a perfect life isn't helping anyone. In fact, it's causing harm because it's setting an unattainable standard for your peers and children.  There is plenty of beauty and happiness to be had, but there is always sadness and mistakes. Showing people you make them also allows you to show people how you overcome them. And that's just as beautiful as your sunsets, cocktails or outfits you post.
8. Pick a person to love on this year. Just one person that you go out of your way to encourage and be intentional with on social media. Who knows of the impact you can have.
9. Turn off your phone when you're playing with your kids or having a conversation with people. I have to put my phone upstairs far from where I can pick it up, but it works. It keeps me engaged. When I am meeting with someone I don't pull it out of my bag. You can hear your babysitter's call if there is an emergency. ;)

Photos by Rennai Hoefer
 

STAND FIRM

Stand firm. It's not about what's next this season. New doors, new experiences, new people and a new self may come, but I am not seeking new and I am not seeking more. I'm keeping two feet firmly planted on the ground and standing firm - ready, waiting, and prepared. The ground may be hard, but I'm digging deep with dirt covered boots, grit between my finger tips and my hair blowing in the wind. 

This season is mastering what has already been given. I am a mother, a wife, a friend, a business owner and an artist with other roles occasionally thrown in. That's plenty. More is not what my soul needs or seeks. It's just learning how to grow taller from what has already been planted.

Patient, steadfast, strong, reliable - these are adjectives that I want people to say when they describe me, but often I am described as go-getter, strategic, goal-oriented. Those latter adjectives have one thing in common - they are always moving forward. But, I am tired of moving right now, and God knows it. So, for now, I am called to stay firmly planted, and to become a master will be more of a challenge for me than anything I have ever done.

These past couple of days I have been contemplating the commonly quoted passage of Ecclesiastes 3:

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

The past three years have been a season of being uprooted, mourning, throwing away, and tearing down. But now I'm being ushered into a season of planting, building back up, gathering, searching, keeping and mending. What season are you in right now? Do any of these phrases speak to you? I'd love to hear, and I would love to hear your word or phrase for the year too. 

Photos by Rennai Hoefer