Wonderlust Diaries | Part 2 | Ladies Love Walls

Right where I stand, I can plant new ideas, pursue new creative outlets. When I stop obsessing over the wall, I began to take care of myself.

Ladies Love Walls | Heart

I love a good wall. As a photographer, I find myself seeking them out during each stop on my route. Their unique characteristics inspire me, and my fingers instinctively reach for my phone in order to share each find with the everyone else who has this thing with walls. I’m not alone. There are countless hashtags and scavengers hunts dedicated to this photographic trend.

Unfortunately, I presently find myself struggling with the metaphorical kind. Some days, you don’t just enjoy a wall in passing, rather, you run smack into it. And then you are stuck. Creatively, physically, spiritually. We feel like it comes out of nowhere, but if we look just a bit deeper, we can see the choices and circumstances that led to that proverbial dead end.

Over the last few weeks, I have tried to find a way to share my story with you. I desperately want the world to know everything I see, hear, touch, smell, and all that I’ve experienced, yet I am unable to push beyond this mental and emotional barrier. I have attempted to break through, to scale its height, even to simply walk the length in search of a way around. I have found myself bruised, scraped, and weary in the process.

The stones that make up this towering rampart are varied in depth and weight. Layers stack higher with each leg of the journey. One brick laid for car troubles, another for that photo opportunity or conversation that I missed. A row for loneliness. An imperfectly laid tier over concern for Quigley’s delicate health. That second story balcony with the granite gargoyle? We’ll just attribute that to the election drama. The mortar holding it all together is mixed with one part caffeine, 2 parts sheer will.

Please don’t get me wrong, this adventure has been a wonder and a joy to experience. That is evident as I look upon the wall. My friends have etched encouraging messages into the mortar as it dried, and much of the graffiti has been cleared off by the kindness of strangers. Splashed across it are a multitude of colorful murals, each depicting magnificent landscapes or significant revelations. But the good, in all of its splendor, is still part of the wall. I would love to be able to list concrete examples, or give you an anecdote from the road. But those bits of concrete are piled up and hidden inside this massive structure standing in front of me. This journey as a whole is something that will take a significant time to process. Something I am not ready to take on just yet. I’ve even avoided many literal walls this week, because they are looming reminders of my current state. Come to think of it, this is likely why I’ve been obsessively sharing plants lately. Allow me to explain…

Breaking through is not as easy as one might believe. Even the loosened stones can be too heavy to pry away in our weakened states. If you hit them too hard, you likely wind up injured, and set back further than you were before. But what are we to do?

In times like these, I must remind myself to simply turn my back on the wall, and notice the potential that is already within my grasp. Right where I stand, I can plant new ideas, pursue new creative outlets. When I stop obsessing over the wall, I began to take care of myself. I was able to see this trip with new eyes, and look well beyond what I imagined it could be. New opportunities within the project have already presented themselves. Right now, I’m simply letting my musings breathe. These ideas need the freedom to develop and flourish as they may.

The wall is still there, but it does not cast a shadow upon me any longer. I am confident that over time, these new seeds of possibility will grow lush and strong, taking root in the cracks and crevices of that once daunting barricade, and slowly tear it apart.

Beauty in the breakdown, indeed.


Briana Moore

Briana is a Boston-based freelance lifestyle photographer & writer. When not behind the camera, you'll find her championing all things jovial and enlightening, including a fondness for wandering and deep connection to the Swedish Chef. 

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Know Your Heart

This is for finding yourself and learning to love her.

Today is the day!

I told you yesterday that in my time away, we made something special for you.

Well it's here! Today is the day!

Meet the Know Your Heart Guidebook and series.

This is a 50-page workbook that helps you get straight to the heart of things. (Pun semi-intended).

After Volume I, we realized that as much as we loved inspiring you, we wanted more. We wanted to give you a way to take action.

 

So we made you this:

The Know Your Heart Guidebook.
It is over 50 pages of prompts, exercises, and tools to help you live on purpose. This isn't about goal setting, but rather about getting to know the woman you are.

This is for finding yourself and learning to love her. It's for dreams and heart flutters and for using your past for a purpose.

One of our pilot users just said,

"Sitting there and allowing myself to actually think and write about what I want and who I am (not what someone else wants for me) has literally changed my life already."

Need more convincing? Jump into our group to learn more and get connected

I hate getting all salesy and weird so I'll leave you with this:

You deserve to know what you want and who you are. You deserve to know those things and start infusing your life with stuff that makes you proud.
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You can shop the Guidebook (in paper or digital format) and the corresponding course in our shop now.

 

time for you

It has been freeing to hit pause and realize that I don't have to be tap dancing to prove that I'm OK.  

One of the very best things I've done for myself in the last year is to take time.

I don't know about you, but I often feel like I need to know the next step and be halfway to it before the step I'm on is over. You know? As if there's not even time to enjoy this moment because I have to be really prepared for the one that's coming next. 

But I'm trying really hard to let that go. 

I can't let it go when the weekend is approaching. I want to know the plans. All of them. What are we eating? Where are we going? Will I have to wear pants?

Same is true for vacation or holidays or anything to do with our kids.

But like I said, I'm working on it.

 

There is one place I've learned to step back, and that's when I feel the need to know the ending.

It is endlessly cool to be surrounded by great storytellers these days. Almost anyone can be a writer if they choose. Social platforms and finger keyboards have allowed us to express ourselves in record time. And I love to know what everyone is doing. I love to know when people arrive at a conclusion or have a life-changing epiphany. I love it because it makes it feel possible for me. Like maybe I can conquer my demons and figure out all my stuff too. 

What I don't love, however, is feeling like I have to keep up. Like in order to be doing things right, I've got to always have beans to spill. Like I've got to be having epiphanies (and sharing them!) on the regular. Like everything ought to end up tied in a pretty red bow. 

In believing we always have to have a good ending, we're missing out on some of the best parts. 

Rushing from one conclusion to the next might feel like keeping up, but I've realized it means leaving ourselves behind.

And anyway, I somehow got tired of doing it. A lifetime of power planning will do that to you, I guess. 

So instead of always starting and saying and sharing, I decided to get quiet instead. I decided to use the time I'd save by not shouting to really think about the woman I wanted to be. 

And I'm well on my way to finding her. 

Because I'm giving myself the time.

No pressure, no conclusions, no need to tell everyone what I'm pondering.

I can't tell you the peace I've found in doing this for myself. It has been freeing to hit pause and realize that I don't have to be tap dancing to prove that I'm OK.  

The jazz squares can wait, y'all. Our hearts cannot. 

It was in this time of quiet that I learned a lot about myself. I chose me a lot of the time. I stayed home instead of going out of obligation. I said how I felt (sometimes [it's a work in progress]), I wrote and I sat and I took lots of naps. I worked really hard to plow through my stuff because something deep down told me I needed it. And I know now that more than needing it, I deserved it.

And I truly believe that you do too.

So I'm back to starting projects again. And I'm back to really believing in them. 

This revamped website and renewed love of the blog is not a have to. This is a want to.

This is all because I've found something that can help you love yourself more. And you deserve to have that.

Tomorrow we'll release something that Jessica and I have been working on since October. It feels amazing to finally be stepping back, blowing off the sawdust one more time, and running our hands over something we're so proud of.

Our hope is that it will help you find your quiet.

That you might steal away some time just for you.

That you would find yourself and love her tirelessly.

That you will find ways to use your story that set your heart on fire.

Because we believe that you deserve all that and more.

You deserve the time.

 

Yes, you've got responsibilities and feel short on time. Yes, you've got to keep your job and honor your commitments. But what you don't have to do is sacrifice yourself in the process. You don't have to give up on your needs or back down or feel too scared to take the next step.

And you most certainly don't have to extinguish that little flicker within.

We made you something for the quiet little corners of your heart because you deserve the time.

 

We're eager for you to sit and think. To write. To scribble. To draw and doodle and dream. We are ready for you to invest the time in knowing the woman you are.

I can't wait to show you what we've got, guys.

I am really so very proud of it. 


the best little shrub on the side of the hill

There will be people who used their fingers to scrape up whatever was left in the rubble and turned it into something beautiful.

best little shrub | heart

The only "real" job I've had was as a teacher. And a lot of times, I looked around and wondered if that was really enough. It wasn't fancy or entrepreneurial or revered. I wondered if my work mattered. I know now that for sure, it did. And I'm sure because I know now that each of us has a thing. Some of us even get multiple things but there's always something - some way we can help, some work we can dirty our hands with. There is always something we can do.

My students' schedules read Language Arts but what I loved to teach was social justice. Every book I assigned, every story we read, every time I asked them to write, the focus was on ways we could learn to love other people. And in the process, ways we could learn to love ourselves.

We read about a young man with craniofacial abnormality, a girl who'd been raped and couldn't bring herself to tell, an elephant trainer abused by the caste system in India. We read about the Soviet takeover of Afghanistan and the Holocaust and the rise of hip-hop and civil disobedience and a girl who came from nothing and a boy who moved to the US from China and never felt that he fit. We spent four months taking in everything we could about the Civil Rights Movement. We studied religions of the world so we could be more tolerant and wrote about what we'd do if we could somehow change the world.

I wanted them to know.

I wanted them to KNOW.

To know that yes there will be adversity. That nothing has been given without a fight. That there will be maltreatment and fear and terror and awful, awful days. But for every one of those, there will be people who survived. There will be people who used their fingers to scrape up whatever was left in the rubble and turned it into something beautiful. That they can be part of the change.

I wanted them to know.

I doubt I can describe my favorite thing to teach.

That's a lie. It was Civil Rights.

But still.

Every single story made a difference. Everything they wrote left a mark.

I believed that they were changed in some way after seeing all that - after realizing that they weren't the only ones who felt forgotten and out of control. That other people had been there too. And they'd still turned into flowers out of all that dirt.

The idea is that you can secure your freedom. That you can work for it. March for it. Fight for it. That we control what we do with our heartbreak.

That if we believe we are worth it, we can ask for more.

One of my very favorite pieces to teach was Your Life’s Blueprint, a speech that Martin Luther King Jr delivered to Barratt Jr High School in 1967.

He told the students they should have,

"A deep belief in your own dignity, your own worth, and your own somebodiness.Don’t allow anybody to make you feel that you’re nobody. Always feel that you count. Always feel that you have worth and that your life has ultimate significance.”

I’d read those words aloud and survey the room to find somber faces. Sometimes tiny tears would round the corners of their eyes because it hurts to hear someone say something that really ought to be true.

I knew that it was a struggle for them to believe it. To know that they were somebody. And with Dr. King’s help, I was aiming to remind them.

He went on to say,

If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.

If you can’t be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be the best little shrub on the side of the hill.

By this point, I was always the one with tears in my eyes.

Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.

OK?

Be the best of whatever you are. Even if you fear it's not enough.

By this point, their eyes were always down. Because it meant something. Because in that moment, they knew. Or at the very least, they hoped.

They believed for a minute that maybe it was OK not to have been born to the best parents or in the best place. That maybe it was fine not to know as much as everybody else in class. That maybe they didn’t have to get good grades or have lots of friends or even have to smell good to be worthwhile. That just maybe he was talking to kids just like them. And that things could be alright.

For a minute, they wondered if they could really make mistakes and get in trouble and carry a mountain of hurt on their backs and still be somebody.

Still, you’re somebody.

Maybe you’re the best little shrub on the side of the hill.

And maybe, just as you are, that’s enough.

It’s reflecting on times like these that make me miss the classroom so much it hurts. I miss the opportunity to remind those broken hearts how much they mattered. I miss the chance to tell them that no matter how hard it’s been or how hard it gets or how often they feel they’ve missed the mark, they are capable of greatness. And they are enough all on their own.

I miss it terribly.

And yet, there’s a little smile on my face because I realize I can still say it whenever I want to.

So listen up:

You’re really important.

There’s something that you’re here to do.

You know it and I know it.

Maybe you don’t know what the thing is. That’s OK.

Keep looking. You'll find it.

Maybe when you’re watching a commercial or browsing Pinterest or walking down the street, you feel a little heart tug.

Follow it. Learn more. Do the thing that makes you flutter.

You don’t have to be the best.

For reals. You seriously don’t.

You don’t have to be the smartest or the prettiest or have the best eyebrows.

You don't have to be widely accepted or even tolerated to do something that matters.

I’m willing to bet you can still do big stuff without those things.

Maybe you’ll write a song. Maybe you won’t.

Maybe you’ll write a book. Maybe you won’t.

Maybe you’ll write a letter or an Instagram post or a post-it-note. That will be enough.

You don’t have to do it big for it to count.

And you certainly don’t have to stay quiet.

Be the shrub on the side of the hill and shine brightly.

Tell everyone your name. Greet them with a hello and a warm smile. Stand up. Speak out. Let the world know why you’re here.

I know, I know. Times get hard and platitudes don't count for much.

So take the time you need.

Cry. Sleep too much. Wallow and eat bad food.

March and cry and resist and cry and write and call and cry again. Then eat more bad food.

Your gifts aren't going anywhere. That thing you're meant to do is yours. Your voice and your hands and your feet are yours. So if you have to sit it aside for a while just to take care, then do it.

You're enough then too.

You needn’t be the fanciest or the most prestigious.

Followers and friend counts and retweets don’t count for much.

Be the best little shrub you can be.

Because it’s enough.

You are important. And from wherever you are, you can do something.

You’re enough, little shrub.

You really truly are.

how to be more present

Step back from the grind and take delight in the present moment.

katie-7.jpg

By the end of last summer I was DONE. I felt stretched thin and was really struggling to be present in my day-to-day. My fiancé and I had spent three months traveling, going to weddings, and visiting family and friends. While all of this travel created sweet memories and a chance to connect with loved ones, I had become short tempered and consumed with work. I wasn’t sleeping. My nerves were frayed from little rest. I wasn’t myself.

I felt like it was time for a reset and I was ready for a change. In September, I was lucky enough to start working with a life and business coach. In 2016, I’ve started two businesses and helped build and work for another one. All of this growth presented me with incredible opportunities for my career and I’m grateful for every moment of this year so far. However, it took me awhile to adjust to my new role as a business owner and communications consultant.

In my new roles, I’ve had to learn again how to take care of myself and my relationships. Working with a coach has been incredibly helpful in piecing myself back together and adjusting to this new lifestyle. I’m happy to say that I have learned how to be more present and mindful in my day-today schedule. This practice is nowhere close to being perfect but I’ve come a long way!

“Mindfulness” and “being present” have become fun catch phrases recently, but they can also act as building blocks to cultivating a meaningful and happy life. Below are five methods I’ve used to be more mindful and present in my daily life:

Journal

Journaling helps you enter into a state of mindfulness by writing out your frustrations, emotions, daily happenings and future visions. Writing daily helps boost memory and comprehension. I’m not going to lie, it’s sometimes difficult to pick up my journal and pen every night but doing it consistently has been very healing. Through writing daily, I’ve become more self-aware by reflecting on my actions and thoughts. Buy a beautiful journal, large or big, and just start writing! Don’t be intimidated and don’t put any pressure on yourself to write a masterpiece. Just write whatever comes to mind, what happened that day or what you’re grateful for.

Clear Your Calendar

You can’t become re-centered if you’re constantly on the run! I decided to know my limits for socializing each week and became disciplined enough to not over-schedule myself. For example, I know that I can do about three social engagements out of the house per week, whether that’s a networking event or meeting with friends for drinks on a Saturday. Although this might seem overly strict, it’s helped me to clear my calendar and say “yes” to more quiet time for myself. Set a limit for yourself and stick to it!

Meditate

I started a meditation practice in September and although it took about a month for me to see big changes, it has made a huge difference in my life. There are several ways to meditate: there are wonderful guided meditations online or you can simply set a timer to three minutes and focus on your breathing for the set amount of time. Meditating increases mental strength, focus and steadies your heart rate. Start by setting aside five minutes a day for meditation and I promise that you’ll start feeling more calm and present.

Practice Empathetic Communication

I was introduced to this concept by a therapist and it’s been life changing. The point of empathetic communication is to truly understand and connect with the person you are listening to- what they are saying verbally, what they are saying through their body language and what they are saying between the lines. When you are listening to someone speak, there should be absolutely no interrupting. Then, repeat back to them what they communicated to you, without your own input, but let them know what you heard them say. This form of communication helps to increase emotional intelligence and deepen your relationships. By using empathetic communication you can become more present and mindful to your loved ones.

Be Creative and Play

t’s so easy to get stuck in routine. There are bills to pay, work to get done and responsibilities to be met. Let yourself relax through play or being creative. Go to your local museum, take your niece to the park, or pick up a coloring book and let out your inner five year old. When we allow our brains to engage in play, our brain function increases, we become better at problem solving and we improve our social skills. Step back from the grind and take delight in the present moment.

What are your favorite ways to unwind? How do you create mindfulness in your daily routine?

Recommended Resources for Mindfulness and Being Present:

Headspace App

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

15 Minute Morning Meditation

 

elise-crawford | theheartmag

Elise Crawford

Through her companies, Ringlet Studio and Ringlet Market, Elise Crawford helps women entrepreneurs to expand their business through digital marketing and educational workshops.

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how i got content with real life

No one was going to save me from grumbling about things that didn't matter that much. It was up to me. I could resent and hate it, or make a way to be happy.

content with real life | Heart

Contentment is hard to come by.

Especially as a woman. And especially as a woman with a smart phone.

We are ALWAYS looking at people who seem to have it all together.

And believe me, I get it.

I was never content to live in Wyoming.

I felt trapped here. Like the roads could close at any minute and I'd be stuck with nothing but cold toes and a Walmart. And to be fair, the roads do close a LOT. Like in the winter, you've got to really be committed to leave town because it's entirely possible you could get stuck for a night or two. You realllllly gotta want it. And when you live in a town with no Target, you want it pretty often.

But for real. My family is far away. It's freezing 3/4 of the time. We don't have Chipotle. Henry needs access to the kind of medical care we don't have here. Just going to the airport takes two hours. I could go on...

But anyway, I lived here about 9 or so years feeling resentful. Like there had to be something better somewhere.

If only my husband would move. If only Laramie could not be the worst and get a freaking chicken place. If only we didn't have to buy stuff on Amazon every day. (Actually, I like that one quite a bit)

So I grumbled. For YEARS. I was mad for being "stuck" here. I was not content with this life.

But a few years ago I read something that stopped me pretty quickly:

"If you are placing your happiness in the hands of anyone but you, you will ALWAYS be disappointed." So I got to thinking. Maybe instead of it being Chad's fault or Laramie's fault or Chick Fil A's fault, maybe I was the reason everything sucked so much. Maybe it was on me to turn it around.

So I started looking with new eyes. What is great about this place? We don't have to worry about crime hardly ever. There's no traffic. I know how to get everywhere. No google maps needed. Chad's incredible family is here. I love our elementary school. There's nothing better than a college town. Getting to go out of town shopping is a huge thrill since it's rare. We probably save money because we don't go out or shop a ton. I could easily foster my homebody tendencies. It's easy to meet people.

No one cares about the nicest brands or having fancy stuff. So I don't have to either

I trust that our kids are safe.

It takes Chad all of five minutes to come home from work.

People smile at each other.

No one is in a big hurry.

See what I'm saying? Lots of good stuff. And no, I certainly did not love my life overnight when I started this practice. But. The thing is that no one was going to fix this for me. No one was going to rescue me or start building chain stores in a town of 30,000 people. No one was going to save me from grumbling about things that didn't matter that much. It was up to me. I could resent and hate it, or make a way to be happy.

I could get content on purpose. So I took it a step further. What kinds of things do I love? How can I do more of those things?

I started doing projects around the house

I founded a wedding planning firm

I learned to make cream cheese frosting

I sat outside with the sun on my face and tricked myself into believing 45 degrees was warm

I learned to love cooking (and made friends with my Crockpot) (and learned to like hot soups)

I dropped off and picked my girls up from school every single day and smiled at their sweet brown heads bouncing toward me

I hosted girls' nights

I read books

I started recording a slew of nonsense TV shows to watch in my free time

I cleaned whenever I felt like cleaning and learned that I LOVE relaxing in a clean house

I planned dinner parties

I sold my business

I started a magazine

I burned new candles the very day I bought them

I avoided the laundry

I made at least one dessert a week

 

None of those things are specific to where I live, but they are specific to me loving my life --- to me filling my days with things I enjoy and can look forward to, no matter where I am.  No matter how cold it is or who is sick or how many new jeans I don't have in the closet.

And you know what else?

I got real about my problems. I took a hard look in the mirror and realized it wasn't anyone else's fault that I felt the way I did. That was my choice. The circumstances of my life were often out of my control, but the way I chose to move forward wasn't.

I'd still feel small no matter where we lived unless I worked at it.

Henry would be sick whether we lived next to Children's or not. And it is my privilege to take him to doctor's who know what to do.

If I didn't change, I'd always be chasing perfect.

Nothing would be different if I believed no one would have compassion for me.

It wasn't up to anyone else to fix it. There was no one else to blame. These were MY days. And I was ruining them without evening realizing.

So I got real. I invested in a coach and a counselor and started choosing to believe that I had a purpose. And I dreamed.

And did stuff I'd always wanted. Without waiting for the perfect time.

It was in this town of 30,000 people that I launched two successful businesses. It was in this town I gained the courage to speak publicly and share my story with other women. It was in this town that I rode in the backseat toward home with three fresh new babies beside me. It is in this town that we make memories our kids will have forever - including stuffing our faces at a grassy tailgate party with DirecTV and seeing their cousins and grandparents at least twice a week. It is in this town that I've become the woman I am today. It is here that I've learned to love my life.

None of this was ever about the place I lived. It was about choosing. It was about believing I deserved to be happy no matter where and no matter what.

And I am proud of the work I've done to make that happen. It was work. But now it comes more naturally. I instinctively do things I feel like doing. I instinctively love my days more than I used to.

The perfect day isn't going to come. It might happen someday but not because I'm waiting or planning for it. So all I can do is decide to get content with what I have. I have a small-town life. I have three kids and a husband who works hard for us. I have a kitchen where I can try new things. And of course, I always have Amazon Prime.

There's no sense in waiting for someday because someday might not ever arrive.

This might be all there ever is. And it's our job to make sure it's good enough.

We don't know the twists and turns ahead. And we don't get to undo what's happened already. What we do get are the days in between. The days right now. And we get to decide that we'll fill them up with good stuff if it's the last thing we do. Because we deserve that.

We deserve to go to bed tired and smiling and content.

We deserve to dream big dreams and make them happen no matter the circumstances. We deserve to love the real life we have.

And doing that requires a choice.

So are you ready? Ready to stop holding your breath or looking around the corner? Ready to say yes to the dreams in your heart and the life that's waiting outside your head? It's time.

Let's do it together.

The Wanderlust Diaries | Part 1

I would love to take a deeper look into the hearts and minds of Americans and reveal just how much we need each other.

BrianaMooreWanderlustDiaries

Would y'all agree that one of the best things about Heart is that it connects us to other women? Don't you just love that feeling you get when you look at someone and feel compassion and inspiration and connection just by reading a story? It's seriously the best.

And we're excited that the journal is back in action and bringing you stories from women who are out there getting after their dreams.

This is the first part in a series with Brianna Moore who's just embarked on a cross-country journey with her dog Quigley. They're going to be following the route of John Steinbeck in Travels with Charley, inspiring all of us with a serious case of wanderlust to journey toward our best selves.


How did you find Heart and why did you want to share your story with our readers?

I came across Heart through a handful of fellow female entrepreneurs, and I was so delighted to come across a publication that was not only empowering for women but whose focusing was on finding joy right where they were. I believe this is lacking, and am happy to see Heart filling that gap. With that in mind, I thought that this upcoming journey would resonate with your readers, and would be a great community to connect with on a deeper level.

Let's talk about the adventure...what's about to happen? Why are you going?

I am embarking on a three-month documentary road trip with my rescue dog, Quigley. This passion project will revisit the route and spirit of John Steinbeck’s beloved travelogue, Travels with Charley. Through imagery and essays, I will be comparing and contrasting his experience and observations with our contemporary America.

What do you hope to learn/gain from this trip?

What excites me so deeply about this expedition is that it embodies all of my passions: photography, literature, travel, sociology, & community engagement.  Our country is currently so focused on our differences. I would love to take a deeper look into the hearts and minds of Americans and reveal just how much we need each other.

What should we expect from you over the coming months?

While the final project will be chronicled in a book, I am also writing special pieces about additional aspects of the journey. For our readers at Heart, I will be sharing musings on The Joy of Missing Out (JOMO is the new FOMO), as well as the Yin & Yang of Life on the Road.

What do you want us to know looking forward?

I would love to engage with readers, both online AND on the road! If I'm passing through your area, please feel free to reach out!

I will be using my skills of photography and storytelling to apply my own unique take on the trip and view the classic writer's experiences through a contemporary lens. I am following the same route as Steinbeck, and have planned stops at national parks, historical spots, and sentimental roadside attractions, and will be gathering numerous interviews and stories with people and fellow creatives along the way.

 - - -

While there are plenty of explorers crisscrossing the nation and sharing their stories, few of them are women and even fewer are women doing it alone (or at least without other humans), as much of this trip will be. This journey demonstrates focus and cultivates a country-wide sense of community that all women struck with even the smallest ounce of wanderlust can admire. We hope you're as eager as we are to follow along with Briana and Quigly in the coming months.


briana-moore

Briana Moore

Briana is a Boston-based freelance lifestyle photographer & writer. When not behind the camera, you'll find her championing all things jovial and enlightening, including a fondness for wandering and deep connection to the Swedish Chef. 

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before you quit, ask this

Though the ability to walk away from something bad is inherently good, I know I miss out on opportunities to grow.

don't quit yet

I'm a quitter, y'all.

I hate that it's true but it is. Things get hard and I throw in the towel. Like fast. And though I do think the ability to walk away from something that isn't right is a good one, I'm well aware that I miss out on opportunities to grow because the stretching feels too hard. This is an especially hard in the world of entrepreneurship because there's no one there to make me do anything. If I don't feel like doing something, then it just doesn't get done.

Whoa.

If I don't feel like doing something, it doesn't get done.

Not the best way to proceed.

If you, too, start stutter stepping when the going gets tough, join me in asking this question:

Am I quitting because this is wrong for me, or am I quitting because it's hard for me?

Now this might seem simple to a person who's used to persevering, but to the rest of us, it can be staggering.

I'm not skinny yet. Quit.

We'll never save money. Quit.

She has more followers. Quit.

No one is noticing my work. Quit.

You make me so mad. Quit.

I'll never be good. Quit.

We are consumed with doing things right. We want results. We want acknowledgement. We want to feel vindicated. We want to believe that our toil and our struggle are proving to be worthwhile. We want a confirmation that hard work is worth it.

(And we want it now.)

But there's that pesky old saying: nothing good comes easily. And I'll be danged if it isn't true. Let's think about it. Baby: holy hard work. Marriage(i.e. two people working to love and do what's right every single day): holy hard work. Building a house, losing weight, making a pie from scratch, growing a thriving business, leaving a legacy... each of them happen in a series of small moments that collect and multiply and then finally, after doing the work and forgetting about the accolades for days and weeks and years on end, you look back and realize: it worked. To make a great change, you've got to work so long and so hard that it's no longer something you consciously strive for, but rather, a part of who you've become.

That's the key to overnight success, y'all --- working your entire life for what you want.

Now before you quietly start sneaking backwards out the door and think that waiting your whole life for something just doesn't seem worth it, let's think about it this way:

what happens if we never make the change?

What happens if we stay exactly as we are right now, always afraid to take the risk and put in the work?

What does the future look like for you if you never try anything new? If you never stand up for yourself? Never decide that your health and your happiness are worth 30 daily minutes of misery? What if you never decide that you are worth more? What if you never forge a new friendship? Never stick out the hard parts and know what it's like to truly be loved? What if you never put your heart out on the line?

It's going to be hard. Freaking for sure it is. You are going to want to quit. You're going to get mad and sad and mutter under your breath that you knew this was a bad idea while you shuffle around in your two-day-old jammie pants shoving stale frozen pizza into your mouth. But it's going to be worth it. Whether or not you see results in a day or two.

You're  not waiting your whole life. You're working your whole life.

What's something you've been wanting to do? What's the purpose behind what you're already doing now? What is your life's mission? Truly think - who do you want to be and how do you want to be her?

I want to be a good partner and wife.

I want to be the kind of mother that makes my children look fondly on their childhood and remember how obvious it was that they were loved.

I want to be a part of the changemakers that bring women to a place in the world where they feel strong and safe and capable of having any kind of life they wish.

I want to feel good about myself --- about my body, my health, my ability to handle the tough things and to roll laughing with the good.

I want to stop worrying about what I should do and learn to enjoy every little thing

None of those things have to be specifically mastered - there's not a right way or wrong way to do any of them (except for maybe lowering my gummy bear consumption...I'm pretty sure that's scientific). And I love those kinds of goals because there's no failing unless I quit.

Unless I quit...

I get scared, you guys. I get scared that I'm expending energy into things that will never reap the rewards I'm hoping for.

What if I eat all this stinking kale and still hate how I look in a bathing suit?

What if I stay up all night writing and no one ever reads it?

What if I love you more than you'll ever love me?

There are plenty of what-ifs to be asked. More than I'd like to allow consideration for, in fact. But the thing is, none of my life goals hinge on those what-ifs. Being a mom whose love is loud or a woman who fights for other women does not depend on whether or not I get skinny or get my heart broken or fall down in the process. I still want those things. I want them regardless of what happens.

Which means it's not time to quit yet.

If something is hurting you, if something you're doing is negatively impacting your health or your safety, then throw in the towel, baby. Consider this your permission to stop dragging the bad stuff along with you. But if you're ready to run from something that gets you where you want to go, just because it's hard and you're tired, I urge you to keep pushing. Because nothing worth having should be derailed by a little hardship.

So yeah, my instinct is to quit. It is to drop my stuff and run before anything bad happens to me or before I waste too much heart space on something that doesn't pan out. But doing that doesn't bring relief. Quitting things---letting them fall at my feet---doesn't make me feel like I want to feel. Quitting doesn't get me closer to the life I want to live.

It's in the hard stuff, that something even better waits. It is at the junction of quitting and pressing on that we find the people we want to be.

I don't want to work out. I really really really don't want to eat a vegetable. Like not even one. I don't want to play Barbies. I don't want to sing songs or set bedtimes or sit at a computer when the sun is shining. I don't want to risk getting hurt or failing or losing something I set my heart to having. I don't want someone to tell me no. But without those risks or those things I don't feel like doing, I'm not the girl I want to be. This won't be the life I want to live.

No one said it would be easy. But they did say that that nothing happens overnight.

They said that hard work reaps rewards, even if it's not the kind we first envisioned.

So, friend, if you're ready to give up because it's hard, hold my hand and take a second look. Because it might just be that the hard gets us to the place we're hoping to go.

Let's stick something out together.

give them your story

“Human to human, thank you.  Your words surrounded me like a warm blanket.  I’m so grateful that I’m not alone.  

Also, my legs are hairy as hell.”

give them your story

My lips were salty and my cheeks stained with an abstract mix of Diorshow and happy tears.  Whether the tears were prompted by the dry, wandering smoke from the fire pit in front of me or by the vulnerability of sharing a personal story in front of 200 strangers, I’m not sure.

That Thursday evening, I shared one of my personal stories in the middle of one of Athens, GA’s most beautiful parks, blinded by the stage lights with no barrier between my heart and the people sitting in front of me.  No screens to hide behind and no time lapse between the words I was saying and the ears that would hear them.  All I could see were a few sweet kiddos roasting marshmallows on the fire.  I only heard my own voice coming through the speakers behind me with the occasional mumble of resonance and deep thinking.  Everything else was a dense fog of smoke & white light.

The reason I was there, telling my story to all of these people in front of a fire pit, was for a local event called The Rabbit Box.  The Rabbit Box is a monthly event where normal people come to share real stories for hundreds of people who not only show up, but pay money, to hear them.  And I’d been invited to tell my story for the October event on “Wild Things.”  

There’s an unmatched vibration to the stories told there because there’s no pretense.  No experts.  No professional speakers.  Just real people telling unfiltered stories of upbringing, surprise, circumstance and change.  Real people, real stories and everyone leaves changed.  

Like the energy released in the hot, dry smoke from the fire, there was an energy released in me that night.  An energy that comes with opening up any new avenue of sharing our creativity.  What I didn’t expect was what happened over the days and weeks that followed.

The next day, on Friday morning, I opened up my computer to three new Facebook messages from strangers who’d been sitting in the audience the night before.  Their words?  

“Human to human, thank you.  Your words surrounded me like a warm blanket.  I’m so grateful that I’m not alone.  Also, my legs are hairy as hell.”

“All my life, I’ve felt like I would never be enough.  And, all my life, I’ve chased grace to set me free. To release my from me not-enoughness.  Thank you for giving me the permission that I needed to stop trying so damn hard.  I think you’re onto something - maybe all the things that I thought were wrong about me are all the things that are RIGHT and natural about me.  ”

“I always come to these Rabbit Box things because I find the stories so captivating.  Now, I know why.  Your story is MY STORY and I just didn’t have the words for it until now.  I’m thinking about telling my story soon and I wanted you to know that you gave me the permission to do that unfiltered.”

These people, these strangers, found permission and grace that they didn’t expect.  Simply because I shared a story of my own.  A story of shame, judgment, freedom and grace.  All conflicting and all a part of the whole.

I used to think that my stories belonged ONLY to me and that telling them was an exercise for myself.  Now, I know that sharing my story isn’t just about healing myself, it’s about connecting with others through them in order to become whole, together.  Sharing my story isn’t about showing the world what’s mine and it isn’t about showing how much my life has changed.  

Sharing my story is about something so much bigger than that, outside of myself.  Sharing my story is how I connect with others and how we all become whole, together.  Sharing my story, and my healing, shows others what is possible.  My story can give others permission to be themselves, permission to say or do the uncool thing, and permission to rub up against culture’s norms.

I think the same is true for you.  

Your story is the greatest gift, and the most unique contribution, that you will share with the world.  Your story is an exercise of your creativity and a blooming of your soul.

As Brene Brown says, “The only unique contribution that we will make in this world will be born of creativity.”  

You can share your story in a hundred, different creative ways.  Through writing, through art, through music, or through service.  You can share your story over coffee, while chopping veggies, or while you fold the week’s laundry.  There’s no perfect format or necessary avenue.  There’s no perfect medium or optimized time for engagement.  

Willingness is the only necessity to sharing your story.  Willingness to be seen and willingness to show up.  Willingness to use your gifts, whatever they are, to make your mark on this world.  Combine willingness with a story that’s true and you’ve got a recipe for change.  

I believe that sharing our stories is an opportunity to see Love in one another.  An opportunity to acknowledge the Light in yourself and in the ones who hold space for you.

Hearing others, and holding space for their own dear stories, is an opportunity to promote change within yourself and in the world.  

Your story belongs to the world!  

Your story is your mark and we all need to see it.

Thinking about sharing your own story with the world?  (I hope so.  We need your stories.  We need the unique contribution that only you can give.)  Here are my Top 3 tips to sharing your story as a gift and invitation to others:

  1. Process before you publish.  Most stories need breathing room, margin, white space… whatever you might call it in your own life.  The healing happens, over time, as we write the story and process it on our own.  Often, in this crazy and fast-paced online landscape, we’re tempted to publish our deepest stories as they’re happening.  Before healing and before processing.  Maybe it’s for the sake of “authenticity” or “vulnerability.”  But, true authenticity requires that we know ourselves, our stories and our souls in such a way that sharing them is just icing on top.  Sharing becomes a gift to others, and ourselves, rather than a cry for healing or validation.  
  2. Know that your story will change.  The story you tell today will likely be radically different than the story you’ll tell five years from now.  And that’s okay.  Sharing your story doesn’t mean you have it all figured out, that you’ve learned all the lessons or that you’re ahead of the curve.  One of the most crucial parts of sharing a story that gifts you, and the world, with freedom is knowing that the best parts haven’t happened yet.  The story isn’t over.  It’s still unfolding.  Telling it now is the ultimate cliffhanger.  We can’t wait to see where you go from here.
  3. Give yourself permission.  Give yourself permission to be oh-so-uncool, imperfect, sad, honest, giddy or whimsical.  Give yourself permission to use imperfect grammar, ALL THE CAPS, and ridiculous metaphors.  When you share the story that’s whole and deep within you, it will come out just as it needs to be.  It becomes a gift rather than a judgment.  No semicolons necessary.

Olive Hebert

Olive is a social strategist, content manager and copywriter based in Athens, GA.  She’s easily jazzed by iced chai lattes, kitchen dance parties and pure, real connection.  Through Dearest Olive Studio, she helps small brands and non-profits transform their client bases into dear, thriving communities through custom content creation and social media management.

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more than your dream

Sometimes you can’t sleep because the dreams feel too big for closed eyes.

more than your dream

I know your wheels are always turning. I see your piles of notebooks and underlined stories with notes in the margin. I see the trail of scraps and notes and one-day big ideas. I know that sometimes you can’t sleep because the dreams feel too big for closed eyes.

It happens a lot—the dreaming. You see something that catches your breath. The wind blows just right and a song touches you in a place you didn’t know existed and all of a sudden, your heart’s fluttering. You get excited. Nervous. Excited again. Scared that maybe it’s not worth it to throw your heart into another dream. But then, against your better judgement and the well-meaning cautioners who’ve weathered your storms, you’re leaping. You’re putting your heart on the line and you’re dreaming. You’re making something beautiful.

Then you push publish. It hurts to breathe so you don’t for a few minutes at a time. Your thumb hovers over the delete button and you toggle back and forth between ‘refresh’ and ‘close’. You’re paralyzed and sick and feeling all-of-a-sudden downtrodden because you love this thing and you want everyone to love it too. And you’ve put so much heart into it, and it seems like if they don’t love what you’ve done, in a way they also don’t love you.

You’re afraid that they won’t love you.

read more of this big dreamer post at The Rising Tide Society