Here we are, just over a week into July and summer is in full-swing. In fact, we happen to be in the middle of our first heatwave of the year. I’m not complaining, though, I’ll take sweating round-the-clock over a winter chill any day. 😉
Summer is one of my favorite times of year, especially now when there’s so much sunshine and nothing to hold me back from adventure after adventure. Another thing that I love about summer is all of the parties! There really is nothing like a summer party. Yummy food on the grill, cold drinks, and keeping cool in a swimming pool or sprinkler. It seems like the invitations to barbecues, birthday parties, and celebrations just keep coming in.
Speaking of invitations, today I want to introduce one of my personal favorite sites for making customized invites, Basic Invite.
Basic Invite stands out from other sites for a few reasons. First, they have almost unlimited color options with instant previews online. Once you select a design you can change the color of each element on the card to over 160 different color options. So you can make sure the card is exactly how you want it down to the littlest detail. This sets it apart from almost any other online stationery company.
Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers to order a printed sample of their actual invitation so they can see exactly how it will print as well as the paper quality before they ever have to place an order.
My other favorite thing about Basic Invite is that they have over 40 different envelope colors. So you can make your invitation stand out even before it is opened.
I once heard it said that we can not know ourselves until we reach our thirties; that all of the years before then, we are simply becoming and getting to know. Then, in our thirties we come into who we are completely, for the first time we see ourselves in an unadulterated light. For the first time, the opinions of others and all of the shadows that the world casts against our true selves are put out of our vision and we can see ourselves clearly. These aren’t the exact words that I heard, I’m putting my own spin on it — interpreting some piece of wisdom that was shared with me long ago and spitting it out through my own lens.
I imagine that this process is different for each person. When it comes to experience and growth, there are few things in life that apply across the board. But for me, I believe this to be true. And it wasn’t in my thirtieth year, or my thirty-first year, that I began to see myself clearly — it has only been just recently. Now in my thirty-second year I am finally coming into focus. It is a scary and painful and beautiful and liberating process. One day, you just become aware. You can see into the deepest parts of yourself and you have a choice, you keep looking and you learn who you are, or you look away.
I have chosen to keep looking. Although, sometimes what I see is so difficult, so raw, so painful, that I want to look away. But I will not. We are all made up of thousands of tiny pieces and for every good, beautiful piece, there is a dark, ugly piece. But this is the way of life, this is the way of the world. It is true for all of the things that exist. Something as simple as a stone, once picked up by human hands, can be used in so many ways. Think about all of the uses for a single stone. Think about how it can be used for good, for bad, or for nothing at all. So it is with each human spirit, each one infinitely complex and containing infinite possibility.
The more that I look inside, the more that I realize how complex I am, how deep. I am learning that the world will push us to be shallow instead of deep. In this society, everyone is busy (or at least they think they are busy) and also most people are extremely self-consumed and obsessed with things that are not truly important. (Such as physical appearance, unnecessary personal possessions, career status, social status, and so on.) Due to these obsessions, there is very little time to speak about truly important things like personal growth, the depth of the human spirit, real love, caring for the earth, and so on. All of these things are actually important, as opposed to the false realities that most people worship and spend their days obsessing about. Of all of the things that I’ve mentioned, today I am talking specifically about the depth of the human spirit. To come back around to my point, because most people are not focused on that, they will never help you to cultivate and explore the depth of your own spirit. Therefore, you will have to do it yourself or seek out the rare individuals who will walk with you on that path.
I have just started out on this path for myself. As I embark, I see just how many pieces of myself there are: mother, daughter, friend, magician, adventurer, goddess, warrior, believer, creator, lover, and the list goes on. Now that I see all of these pieces, I find it so important that I nurture all of the pieces of myself and not just the few pieces that perhaps society would have me focus on: mother, daughter, friend, believer.
When we look inside and discover these many pieces, the next step is to embrace them and to do that we must rectify each piece among the others. It is a complicated but critical process. I find that it is especially difficult for mothers and daughters, because we are so consumed with our children, and later in life, our parents. However, if we truly wish to be our best selves and to experience all of the spiritual growth and greatness that we are capable of, we must set out to rectify and honor all of our pieces — not just the ones that society tells us to value.
* * *
These are deep and heavy thoughts. I hope that you will welcome them here, friends. This space has always been my creative outlet to share pieces of my heart and life. It will continue to serve as just that.
If you are interested in this topic I would love to hear your thoughts. How do you rectify the various pieces of yourself with one another? Do you find it is difficult to rectify being a mother/daughter with being an adventurer? Are there some pieces of yourself that you feel you have not honored because you’ve caved into society’s expectations? I would love to know. Tell me that I’m not alone. ♥
Wedding season is upon us. My social news feeds have been lighting up with images of beautiful brides and warm anniversary wishes. I’ve always loved to attend weddings, whether I’m photographing one or attending as a guest myself. There is something so magical about those special days. And, I’m not even going to lie, I cry every time. I cry during the ceremony, I cry during the first dance, I cry during the parent dances. I’m such a sap. I try really hard not to get caught crying when I am the hired photographer. How embarrassing…
Anyway, all of these weddings got me thinking about wedding gifts. For me, that’s always the challenging part. So here’s a little bit of inspiration for you if you find yourself searching for the perfect wedding gift this season.
Perhaps you got to the wedding registry too late only to find all the items were already purchased, or maybe you’d like to make your wedding gift a bit more unique. Whatever the reason, these off-the-registry wedding gifts are sure to appeal to any type of couple and secure your present as a standout of the event.
A Special Trip
They’ve likely got their dream honeymoon already set up, but who said vacations have to be one and done? Once they come back from their honeymoon it’s back to reality, but you can ease the sting of heading back to work and normal life by having a vacation set up in the future for them to look forward to. It could be a weekend in a sweet bed and breakfast in a nearby wine valley, a night in a swanky hotel in a nearby metropolitan area, or even a three-day weekend cruise. Depending on your budget and the things you know the couple likes to do, you can really blow their mind with a trip gift. If you’d like to go in on the present with another wedding guest, don’t hesitate, as you can make your present even more impactful with added funds.
Something Just for Them
Want to get them something no one else has? Make it custom. You can’t go wrong when you personalize a wedding gift, and your gift will definitely stand out as one of a kind. It might be home décor inscribed with their wedding date, or even cutlery and kitchenware customized with their initials and the like. Whatever it is, taking the time to get something made just for them is a gesture that will definitely be appreciated. Customizing a practical gift that they can use every day is the perfect balance of sentimental and useful, and sure to be adored no matter what the couple’s personalities are like.
Some Kitchen Help
Does the happy couple love to get their hands dirty in the kitchen? Perhaps it’s the opposite and they have been relying much too heavily on takeout containers of unhealthy foods. Either way, setting them up with a groceries subscription is sure to be an appreciated gift. Companies like Green Chef put together recipe boxes filled with fresh ingredients and provide all the instructions for individuals to make their own masterpiece dishes right in the comfort of their own home. The newlyweds will definitely appreciate taking grocery shopping off of their list of to-dos, and get to enjoy delicious meals for as long as you order the subscription.
A Special Experience
Make their first year an exciting one by giving them a voucher to a special experience. It could be a cooking class, an art lesson, or any other course you think they might enjoy—even a massage class could be the right fit depending on the couple. If you need help coming up with experience gift ideas, check out Excitations.com. They have lists of all the experience type of gifts available in a certain area. Simply type in the couple’s zip code and see what’s around them. It could be something as adventurous as skydiving, or even a trapeze lesson. This will definitely be a gift they don’t receive two of, and you’ll facilitate a route for them make new memories to cherish for a lifetime.
If They Own a Home
The newlyweds might have lived together for a while, or perhaps they’re traditionalists that are holding off on moving in together until after the wedding. If they’re purchasing a home or have recently, there’s plenty of work to be done, and their yard might be taking a backseat to indoor renovations. If that’s the case, you can make their home even more inviting by purchasing some landscaping work. Purchase a consultation with a landscape architect and let them envision the home they want to work towards. If you can swing it, pay for the yardwork renovations and create an outdoor oasis they’ll love spending time in.
You are certain to find the happy couple the perfect present on their milestone day and to share in their joy with any of these creative ideas. Happy wedding-going to you, friends! xo
There have been moments recently where the beauty of life brings me to my knees. Life teaches me — over and over again — that the human heart has a capacity for healing far greater than I could ever imagine.
I’ve seen people rise up from the ashes of extraordinarily tragic circumstances, grow wings, and fly once again. I’ve seen people look in the actual face of horror and loss, trudge through it, and somehow come out on the other side to live in light and grace once again.
We’ve all heard the trite phrase, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” But what I know now is that it’s not simply a pleasant motto to help push us through difficult times. It’s an undeniable truth. An impenetrable coat of armor that can shield us during even life’s most trying obstacles.
Adversity is painful. The trials of life can cut us so deeply that there will be days, weeks, months, and even years when we will be certain that we can not go on. You will ask, “How can a body withstand this?” But you will go on.
One day, you will rise. You will laugh again. You will love again. You will swim in the sea and the summer sun will warm your skin. You will sit beneath the stark night sky and watch the stars sparkle into infinity. You will feel wind on your face and the simple, undeniable magic of raindrops falling on pavement will make your heart beat a little faster.
After pain, when the healing begins, life is changed. Every color is a bit brighter; every taste a bit sweeter; every sound a bit more lovely; and every touch a bit softer. Don’t ever doubt that you will get through whatever it is that is testing you. You will.