it doesn't have to be perfect

Last Friday, I sat on a stool at my parents' counter in Indiana. My mom worked nearby at her computer while my niece, Lily, carefully crafted a Father's Day card. After I heard her crumple up two pieces of paper in a row, I looked up from my computer screen. 

What's going on, Lil? I asked her as she grabbed another sheet.
I messed it up, she told me while beginning to write h-a-p-p-y again.

Within a minute, she tore up another sheet. My mom peered up from over her screen, catching my eye with a smile. 

It doesn't have to be perfect, my mom told her while winking at me. Your dad will love it no matter what.

I was reminded of myself 20 years ago as I watched her color carefully. One of my very best friends in first grade, Megan, always colored so neatly, leaving me feeling like my pictures were too sloppy. I always tried to slow down and emulate her, outlining each picture first, then pressing the crayon extra hard.

But, mine never looked so perfect as hers. 

This week, I was reading blogs and admiring projects so many women my age have taken on. Amazing, talented girls are running full-blown businesses all around me. As I stumbled upon one amazing project and realized the girl in charge was only 28, I began to feel like I was watching Megan color again. Why doesn't my business look quite as amazing as hers? I wondered to myself. 

I wonder if I'd had a piece of paper representing my ideas, if, in that moment, I would have crumpled it up.

I reminded myself that I'm not called into competition with these other women, but, instead collaboration.

And, I remembered, in that moment, that everything we do doesn't have to be perfect.

Sometimes, we'll fail. Big ideas will end up with small results. Numbers will be lower than expected. Readership will be quieter than we had hoped. The card won't be as beautiful as we had planned. But, it's OK. It doesn't have to perfect. 

Oftentimes, the bravest thing we can do is try. 

Images via Natalie Puls

...and we're back!

Hello, friends! We are back from our wedding and honeymoon and settling into the routine again. I am still unwinding (and wishing I could rewind to do it all again!). I'll be back soon with some big old wedding, Greece and life updates! 

In the meantime, I will leave you with a few recs!:

Reading: I read The Boys in the Boat in Greece. Holy cow! So good. The first 100 pages are a little slow, but if you can get through them, you will n.e.v.e.r. look back. I learned so much, too!

Watching: We finished The People v. OJ Simpson on the flight home and I strongly suggest watching it. I learned things I never knew about the trial (tons) and couldn't believe the empathy I felt for the lawyers, jurors, etc. Chris and I are counting down for the OJ 30 for 30. We can't get enough!

Wanting: Sam Smith originals. Girls in Greece were rocking OG Adidas and they looked so cute. They'd be a real compliment to my slides :) 

Eating: Grilled papaya (and anything we can possibly grill, grilled). We made a recipe from the Superfood Kitchen that called for papaya and had a ton left over. We weren't sure if it was grillable, but we threw it on anyway. I think I prefer it this way! 

Feeling: So happy to live with Chris and pretty happy to be back in the swing of things. But! Still wishing we could go back in time and pause the glorious moment when so many of our loved ones were in Atlanta. This city felt so full with all of you here!

Happy Tuesday!

Create the Life You Want

This morning before work, I took out the trash and noticed that Pedro, the man who maintains our property, had placed two chairs in our veggie garden so he didn't have to mow around them. The move was understandable, as the garden has been completely neglected this year.

As I transferred them back, I noticed the garden had become overrun by weeds. Our mint, which is abundant despite my neglect, was being strangled by weeds that had started on the outside of the garden box and now ruled the inside. I quickly began uprooting the weeds one by one. The more I pulled, the more I discovered. They had grown layers deep - intertwined between the mint and mulch and remnants of tomatoes and basil. 

As I dug deeper, yanking up more twisted, powerful weeds, I realized our 20s can be a lot like this garden if we aren't careful. We start out planting basil, tomatoes, mint and peppers. We're dedicated; we tend to it and care for it.

But, the summer ends and as winter nears we forget about the garden. It freezes over during the coldest months and in the spring it stands forgotten by us, becoming whatever we have left it to be. Years go by and suddenly our once diverse and vibrant garden is simply mint and weeds. 

This isn't to sound negative, but, instead to acknowledge that one of the greatest lessons I've learned in this decade is that we have to be intentional.

If we want a garden full of beautiful vegetables, we can't cross our fingers and hope it falls into place. Creating the life we want takes a lot of work. It takes prayer, practice, discipline and intention. It takes focus, trust and risks. 

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If we want to be a therapist or a doctor or spend a year abroad, we can't simply sit at our desks, hoping someone will give us that dream. If we feel led to start a business, we can't grind on other work, hoping someone will lay that foundation for us. 

If we want a garden full of basil, tomatoes and peppers in the fall, we have to plant it in the spring and tend to it all summer. If we want a life made up of our dreams, hopes and goals we have to get out there and make it happen; we have to hustle and work for it. Before we know it, we just might find ourselves waking up in summer, surrounded by the fruits of our labor. 

My Go-To Etsy Shops for Gifts

Last week, when I shared some of my easy money saving tips, a few of you asked for recommendations on Etsy shops. There are a handful I can't share right now because I'm using them for bridesmaid and family gifts at our wedding. But! For now, I'd love to tell you about some of my other favorites. 

One thing I'd always suggest is to check the shop for reviews. I've been disappointed by a few items I've purchased on Etsy and the shop owners aren't always willing to work with you if expectations aren't met. Reviews are your friend!

Also, I try to always have a stash of gifts from which I can pull when I need a very last minute option. I don't use them for close friends, but if I get invited to a party or have a lunch pop up and feel like I need to bring a gift, it's nice to have a good candle ready to go.

{You can never go wrong with flowers}

{You can never go wrong with flowers}

For the newly engaged girl:

Dear Mushka is my favorite for sentimental jewelry. My newest obsession is her vertical bar necklace. I recently purchased it for a friend when she got engaged with her new last initial stamped on it. Every piece of jewelry is inspired by a bible verse, beautifully wrapped and affordable.  

Also, when we got engaged, two really sweet gifts people gave me were a manicure to a local spa (so thoughtful!) and a sweet ring dish for my nightstand. I've always admired this super affirming one on Etsy, but have yet to purchase.

For the hostess:

For the Host: My sister introduced me to this shop. I love to purchase her beautiful, simple items as hostess gifts. The kitchen utensil set is my go-to. I love that she has so many colors from which you can select, while still keeping the design minimal. 

Dandelion Textiles: I'm a *big* fan of Turkish Towels and have purchased quite a few from various sites. You can pay a lot of money - but you absolutely don't need to do so. Dandelion is technically an Amazon shop, but these are the best, affordable Turkish Towels I've found. They are oversized, come in beautiful colors and get softer with each wash. My sisters purchased them for my bachelorette party gifts and they were a big hit.

{Dandelion Textiles Turkish Towels}

{Dandelion Textiles Turkish Towels}

For the new homeowner:

The Savvy Scribe: I think it's so sweet to give a return address stamp when a friend buys a new home. Haley, a friend from Atlanta, recently opened The Savvy Scribe and has a beautiful calligraphy stamp. I've not yet purchased this item, but we used Haley for a few wedding projects and everything was gorgeous. At one point, I asked her what font she used for something we printed and she said "actually, that's my handwriting." Amazing!

One Craftivist: For a stock the bar, I love to get a Mexican themed gift, such as a bottle of tequila or margarita glasses, then these Holy Guacamole & Let's Salsa spoons

For A Pregnancy Announcement

Oh My Deer Handmades: Last summer, I framed this Hey Babe print for a friend who was having a baby. I love sweet, traditional baby gifts, but sometimes it's fun to get something unexpected.

What are your go-to gifts? I'd love to hear! Happy gifting!

{life lately}

Good morning!

Recently, someone commented that she wanted more little life updates on my blog. I have pulled back on those because sometimes it feels a little cocky to assume you want to know the ins and outs of my life. And, it seems like Insta stole the show there and blogs are just for long form.

But, alas! Ask and you shall receive :) Here's what I've been up to lately (x1000 photos!):

My amazing mom & sisters came to Atlanta to help wedding plan. It was an absolute whirlwind and we got so much done - including sending invitations out. Wahoo!

Off they go! 

Off they go! 

My family + Melly threw me a beautiful wedding shower in Atlanta. I felt so amazingly overwhelmed by their love.

Can you tell who is related here? :) 

Can you tell who is related here? :) 

Their beautiful, simple decor.

Their beautiful, simple decor.

I voted in Georgia's primary. Just a little late to the party on caring about politics - NBD. Power to the peaches, Georgia!

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I rode on a firetruck as part of my LEAD Atlanta program. It was amazing.

Chris and I had friends over to my housing for dining el fresco on a gloriously warm early March day. Hello spring, ILOVEYOU!

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I went home to Indiana for an amazing shower, which my aunts threw. They were so generous and loving. Every detail was so well thought out. These showers really do shower you with love!

My parents threw a great family party, which meant I got to see everyone while I was home ( = the best!). 

I didn't wash my hair for seven days while I was home. Sounds disgusting, right? It wasn't! I swear my hair just stopped producing oil after a few days. (My super cool braid on day seven...)

I drove to Chicago to celebrate my friend, Maggie's, bachelorette weekend. We had dinner at Bar Siena and brunch at Little Goat and laughed and went to Barefoot Power Yoga and were so happy to be together. It was my friend, Jamie's, final weekend living in the West Loop so she showed us, one last time, why it is the best loop. 

I got back to Atlanta and got to cheer on the Hoosiers with my brother, brother-in-law, Ryan, and Chris while eating Yeah! Burger. What more could you want?

The next day, Ryan, who is officiating our wedding, talked us through the ceremony and expectations. Then he took us to get our marriage license

That night, Chris and I went to Leon's to celebrate :) 

Then, last weekend, Sam and his fiance, Abbey, were in town. Naturally this called for dinner at Taqueria + froyo at The Yogurt Tap.

So, that's what has been going on around these parts! I hope your spring is going swimmingly :)!

For When You Feel Jealous

On Tuesday after work, I met an old friend for a walk. The air was warm and the Highlands were dancing - the sidewalks filled with people and strollers and dogs taking long sips of the first of spring. We talked hurriedly - updating one another on the last few weeks; the balmy air filling us with energy. 

She told me about her plans to leave Atlanta; she and her husband are taking their sweet baby and moving north. I asked a million questions about when and where and couldn't have felt more excited for her. They're beginning a new adventure; a brand new chapter for their tiny family. 

But, I detected something in the ugliest part of me that I wish I hadn't felt. I tried to ignore it, but it keep sneaking up.

So, I told her: "I couldn't be more excited for you. But I am a tiny bit jealous."

It's not that I want was she has. In fact, these days what I want is quite the opposite. So what was it?

When we're feeling jealous, it is normally for one of three reasons:

  1. Someone else is getting something you want. You might want it now or in 10 years. But you know you want what they have. 
  2. You're afraid you're getting left behind.
  3. You're afraid there won't be enough for you and that this is an economy of scarcity.

As we finished our walk, she asked me for details on our wedding. I told her how the changing season was making it feel so close. We are in spring and we are getting married in spring! Holy cow!

After a few questions she sighed and said, "Oh, spring makes me feel so nostalgic for our wedding." 

I smiled at her words. Does she want to go back in time? Of course not.

But, just like the future can tempt us with what we don't have, the past can tempt us with what we once had. 

The key is understanding that the playing field is constantly shifting. There will always be someone who has what we want. And we will always have what someone else wants.

By practicing gratitude, we can avoid being overcome with jealousy or nostalgia. 

After we'd parted ways, I ran into another friend. She was on a third date with a guy she likes a lot. They were giddy with the kind of energy you only have in the beginning - when you wonder if he meant to touch your hand and his smile makes your heart flip.

For a brief moment, I thought: Ah, I miss that phase with Chris. And then I laughed at myself. Isn't that the way it goes? From yearning for a baby and a big move to dreaming of the early days of dating, our hearts are constantly seeking and our minds are always racing. We compare and stress and let jealousy make us believe we don't have enough.

I reminded myself that I am grateful for today and that right now is enough. I know and believe that this life is unfolding exactly as it is meant to be.