Neutral Tones

We finally got some cooler weather for a few days last week, and it was such a refreshing change! I've been looking forward to being able to pull out my sweaters and other fun fall pieces this season, like these black ankle booties and camel skirt. Lately I've been drawn to softer, neutral shades like cream, camel, grey, white, soft pink and even a powder blue. This is definitely a departure from my usual colorful picks; however, it seems fitting for the season that brings cozy, classic style and warmer, richer colors and tones. 

Speaking of cozy, a weekend of relaxation, baking, writing, and sipping on hot tea while listening to the soft pitter patter of the rain on the windows was exactly what I needed after a busy last couple of weeks. It's so important to recharge and make time for reflection. With all the things going on in our daily lives, time spent in thought and reflection can easily be forgotten; however, I think it is absolutely important to make time for our minds to simply think, create, and dream. We experience a massive influx of information on a daily basis, and if we're not careful, it can easily lead to extra stress, creative burnout, or feeling overwhelmed. Give your mind a bit of time to pause and reflect, dream, or creatively wander a little. It's amazing to see how refreshed you feel after a momentary mental breather; it's like a breath of fresh (and cool) air! 

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Busy vs. Productive

It's easy to get busy these days, isn't it? Sometimes I catch myself using "I'm busy" as my response to someone asking how I'm doing or how my day is going. We've gotten into a culture that tends to glorify 'busyness' and operates on an efficiency mentality. Everyday is about having more, doing more, getting more, needing more...yet we allow ourselves less and less--less time to create, less hours of rest, less time invested in relationships with other people, less time to think. Are we really that surprised when we hit a wall, feel stressed, or simply burnout? I think deep down we all know that being busy never leads to true productivity; unless, of course, what we're doing is actually what needs to be done. Why then do we continue to create movement in our days for the sake of simply showing activity?

I'll be the first to admit that I will sometimes add simple things to my 'to-do list' for the sake of crossing a task off the list, when in actuality I am only putting off the things that really matter or need to get done. (I'm sure I'm not alone in this, right?) With that in mind, I have made a conscious effort to not only quit glorifying the idea of being busy, but also to make an investment of time in the things that really make a difference. When doing some study on this idea, I came across this article and graphic that I've included below and thought it was worth sharing. (Here's another good read on the topic) How often do you find yourself simply relying on being busy rather than being productive? The challenge for you (and I) is to decide to do what really needs to be done, invest our time in the things that matter most, and create space in our lives to create, relax, be present with other people, and rest. We can only hold a sprint for so long; be willing to be mindful of your activity, ask yourself from time to time, "Am I simply being busy or am I actually being productive?" When we're willing to get honest with ourselves, it revolutionizes our schedule. Let's make today a productive day!


Fall Favorites: Vol 3

Every year I enjoy making a 'fall favorites' post, and this year I've got another round up of things that made the list. I love getting recommendations from friends for great books, recipes, beauty products, restaurants, podcasts, name it. Hearing what others are enjoying is a fun way to discover new favorites and mix up the routine. With that said, here's a few things that I've been enjoying as of late. I'd love to hear some of yours!

This pumpkin smoothie recipe makes breakfast far more festive (and delicious!)

I've been listening to lots of podcasts on my morning run and while getting things done around the house. This one is updated monthly and I always gain some solid insight and thought-provoking wisdom from it. I also try to catch up on the latest episodes of this one

Autumn candles are some of the best. I love burning this fall scent and this pumpkin version to make the house smell so amazing. (p.s. both are currently on sale!)

What's on my bookshelf currently? Here's three of my recent favorites: Goliath Must Fall, Magic of Thinking Big, and The Slight Edge

I'm a big fan of tea (right now, iced since it's still so hot!), and I've been making this ridiculously good cinnamon apple spice version that's perfect hot or cold. 

If you like pumpkin, here's the best (and easiest) pumpkin bread mix. I stock up on this whenever it comes back into the stores so I can make it randomly throughout the year whenever I get the craving My recipe suggestion--swap some of the water for a bit of applesauce to make it extra delicious. You're welcome. ;)

See last year's list here.


Seasons Change

I've been learning a lot about seasons of life lately. Each season brings its beautiful moments, challenges, triumphs, questions, lessons to be learned, and at times they seem to move other people in and out of our lives. Someone once told me that people are in your life for a reason, season, or lesson. What an interesting thought. Sometimes certain seasons are brimming with activity, while others may teach us that we have to be still, at times we may be overwhelmed with blessing, and other times we may need to give more than we receive or love others more than we think they deserve. Some seasons bring abundance of companions and still others may require that we walk a path that is seemingly very quiet and secluded. While not all are comfortable, each season provides the promise of wisdom---if we are willing to assume the position of a student, seek out the lesson and learn.

Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 3 saying,
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."

What I love about this passage is the thought that in time, everything---every season, every victory, every challenge or sorrow, every lesson is for a purpose. Everything becomes beautiful, valuable, intentional, and intricately woven into the fabric of time and history. I know that at times that it can be tempting to want to rush through a season, especially when things get uncomfortable or the promised future seems better than the present circumstance, but I have learned that it is far better to stay present and shift my focus to the opportunity that is before me in the form of this season. When I have chosen to learn and grow, my capacity and abilities expand to greater depth, and I am strengthened or developed in a new way. Whatever season of life you may happen to find yourself in currently, I challenge you (and I) to acknowledge it, look for the lesson, and remind ourselves that in time each season brings purpose, perspective, and beauty. You see, seasons are funny in the sense that just when they begin to feel comfortable and routine, the winds of change stir up once again. Don't rush ahead, wishing for the next thing; enjoy the moment and embrace the season.

October Inspiration

Happy October! Fall is officially in full swing. It's time for all the cozy cardigans, pumpkin everything in the stores, golden evening light, and the hint of coolness in the morning and evening. As I like to do at the beginning of every month, it's time for a brief check-in and a little inspiration. 

To begin each check-in, I always take an inventory of:
1. What my goals are for the month 
2. The amount of progress I have made toward the goals I've set and are still working toward
3. Any habits or environment adjustments that need to be made in order to reach my goals 

Going through this process each month has really helped me to stay focused on the things that matter most. I've learned that inspiration and motivation can ebb and flow, and what keeps us going is not necessarily a feeling but a dedication to the process. Sometimes you might not feel like doing what needs to be done, or your creativity might wane, but when you stick to the process of doing those small daily habits, or continue to commit to putting in the time/effort towards the goal, you'll find that sooner or later the feeling will follow. With that in mind, I like to also think about a few quotes or ideas that help me stay committed to the process. Here's what's inspiring me lately. 

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