you know when multiple people tell you to read a book and you ignore and ignore and forget and then FINALLY get around to reading it and then you’re like WHY DIDN’T YOU LOCK ME IN A ROOM UNTIL I READ THIS.
this book challenged and changed me. i usually preach to live each moment and choose joy daily but this book really hones in on why and how to do it when your life feels normal, hard and mundane. it’s just damn good. i would recommend to anyone, ever, always.
you all. this book T O O. it’s like ann voskamp speaks directly to that part of your heart that says “what if it’s too late and there’s too much hard and my life isn’t so happy and perfect and what if i’m broken?” and she just washes you in her beautiful words and imagery. can’t speak highly enough of her as a writer — absolutely brilliant.
i love this book for a fast vacation read or a fun gift for a friend! mindy is one of my favorite writers/producers because she doesn’t pretend to be what she’s not. she started from the bottom and has become enormously successful off of hard work and an enormous amount of talent. she was just a normal kid and is now just a normal woman who happens to be famous. this book is a humorous look into her life as a celebrity with some good tips sprinkled in! it won’t necessarily change your life but i really enjoyed getting to know her better. she’s so freaking funny.
i have been REALLY loving a couple of random things lately. i couldn’t figure out how to strategically make individual posts to highlight them all. so here’s a post with a couple things i just love — some new, some old!
i found out about james arthur, LANY and ARIZONA all last week and i basically felt like a music ninja. they are such good tunes for cranking out work and running!
speaking of things to listen to, if you’re not listening to awesome with Alison’s podcast, i don’t know why. go. listen. i don’t regularly listen to any other podcast except hers. ANY OTHER. have i convinced you yet?
these jeaaaans. i bought these last summer (post here!) and i STILL have girls ask about them — that’s how well they’ve worn! you know when you see that perfect high waisted pair of jeans on a girl with that kinda frayed hem and you’re just like ugh, i bet she bought those at some Good Will somewhere? SHE DIDN’T (okay, she might have). but also she might have been wearing these. i didn’t know how people liked wearing jeans until i bought these. i borderline want to buy another pair in case these ever got ruined. they’re top rated on Anthropologie.com for a reason, people!
reading. i guess this isn’t a thing you can buy buuuuut i’m still counting it. i just have been less and less attached to media lately — which is sometimes a hard battle because i love connecting with all of you! i have been doing a better job balancing (post soon about that!) so i have time to read every night, usually for at least 30 mins to an hour. post coming Thursday with my latest reads! yeesh, posts left and right. 😉 i love the idea of buying books that people heavily recommend and i will most likely love because then when one day when i have a house, i want to have a mini library! so i have to start now. 😉
the nail polish color funny bunny by OPI. my friend at work was wearing this cool white-ish color and it looked killer against her tan. obviously i had to ask. then i got a manicure (see #6) and asked for that color. do naturally now i want it for my own stash but i am making myself wait for ALL of mine to run out before i buy another. #minimalism
at-home manicures. i did this post a while back about at-home mani’s for you gals on a budget because #humblebrag, but i am really close to nailing it. anyways, when i was home in California, i treated my friend and i to a manicure/pedicure date. i got a gel manicure and it literally made me feel like a million dollars. you know what i mean though? WHAT IS IT ABOUT A GOOD WHITE NAIL COLOR AGAINST A TAN THAT HAS THIS EFFECT ON ME? anyways. then i realized why i don’t pay for gel manis: they make your nails so thin and sensitive. also they’re h-e-double-hockey-sticks to take off. so i had to go BACK to have them remove it and decided to get a manicure because i was feel rich with $20 cash in my wallet. and the thing lasted like a week. y’all. at home manis. the only way to go unless someone wants to fund a weekly gel manicure appt. let me know if you want to make that happen.
true lemon drink mixes. my favorite is the peach lemonade but target doesn’t usually carry that flavor! my mom got me hooked on these a couple of years ago when we were trying to find a water flavor mix that was low cal and more natural than some of the super sugary ones out there — and i still love them. i have been trying to drink an enormous amount of water everyday to help with my health (water was the first medicine of the people — quotes by my dad #justbigMikethings) and these packets make it a MILLION times easier when you’re just like i cannot drink another Nalgene to save my life. also, i also drink water with a straw! it makes me drink so much faster and more. i can’t explain it, but i always have a straw in my Nalgene. might help you!
my email subscription to Scott’s Cheap Flights. it’s free and he sends you emails about cheap flights to anywhere in the world. i want to go to SE Asia with my friend who is living in Hong Kong next spring so i signed up for that reason but now i get such inspiration every time i receive an email! it could even be fun for a couple planning their honeymoon because you could let the cheap ticket inspire your trip.
removing my make-up with coconut oil — i just bought the Trader Joe’s brand. i was racing through either cleansing wipes or make-up remover. then my friend said her lashes were benefitting from using coconut oil and i was like HOLD UP I’M THERE. #vainaboutmylashes. i haven’t seen a difference in length but i also haven’t been using it that long. i just dip my fingers into the oil and rub gentle circles onto my eyes until i look like a raccoon. then i rinse with lukewarm water, rub some more oil gently onto the rest of my face, rinse again and pat my face dry. the jar was less than $8 and is going to last me for forever AND it’s natural! which i love.
ok this one is so random. no judgment zone is real right now. it’s…Tillamook cheddar cheese. you guys, i thought everyone bought Tillamook. then i realized there are people in this world living without the best cheddar cheese in the world when someone looked at me like a crazy person as i referred to cheddar cheese as Tillamook. i grew up with this cheese. okay, i understand i sound like a crazy person, but talk to me after you eat a slice. please go grace your tacos and grilled cheeses and nachos with this glory. you can buy it at Costco in a big chunk or other grocery stores! blessings to you and your stomachs.
i might start doing this random list of things i love more often! i enjoy trying new things — in literally every aspect of my life — so this might be a good way to keep you all in the loop when i don’t necessarily want to write an entire post about a simple product. like Tillamook. #ruinedallcredibilitywithnumberten
ALSO before i forget: i didn’t forget about the room tour post for those of you waiting on that! i had a moment of “oh wow, i actually don’t know if i like what i thought i liked in my room,” started perusing Pinterest, got re inspired and decided to let you in on that whole creative process. so i am taking lots of pictures of CURRENT state (which is making me self conscious because it’s so simple but i’m assuming many of you will relate with that!) and will post that next Tuesday and then Thursday, i have a post with my plans for my bedroom. that way, you can come along for the ride and see the method behind the madness. 😉
today i am going to chat about something that has really helped me combat the typical overwhelming feelings of post grad. aaaand you’re probably going to hate me for this post because you’re not going to want to do what i tell you i’ve been doing.
been there, felt that hard.
but it’s W O R K I N G. you know me well by now. i don’t recommend unless i am 100000% behind it.
and i am so behind this!
so what am i talking about? i’ll start from the beginning.
about three weeks ago, i had what i called a anxiety attack but after researching, i don’t really know what to call it because it doesn’t align with what an anxiety attack is. so i’ll call it a “live large attack.” because i think that’s what best describes it.
it was a Sunday night. my roommate was out of town for the week and i had spent majority of the weekend alone. i spent a lot of time on social media and researching photography websites and looking at (expensive) new cameras and thinking of travel plans and it was all very exciting in a good way!
but then Sunday night, i started to feel this tightness in my chest and i felt really sick, really anxious and i don’t feel like that very often. i am honestly not really a worrier. i get overwhelmed because i just love to do so many things and do them big but never to the point where it feels scary. i am honestly just a very excitable person so it’s easy for me to get worked up about something. 🙂
i texted my sister and mom crying, feeling like i was losing it because there was really no reason for me to feel so overwhelmed. i had had a normal weekend and it wasn’t because of work so why in the world did i feel like my world was falling apart?
i got to work Monday morning and the tightness was still there. i am uncannily good at pretending nothing is going on even when i am internally falling apart. i used to be oddly proud of this. but really, i have realized that i have a tendency to feel very lonely because i would rather listen to you and your problems than talk about mine and worry you. so i just passed through the morning like i was fine.
but i still felt sick. my chest was so tight and i felt nauseas. i had no appetite. i texted my mom to call me, something i never do during the work day, and she called me from work. i sat outside and tried to hold back the tears as she felt awful being so far and not able to do anything. i also think she was genuinely freaked out because i have never call her when i am stressed. i usually move easily from starting to feel the beginnings of stress and i switch into go mode, getting a start on things instead of sitting around feeling sorry for myself.
then she said something that she gently reminds me, as do my close friends, when my creative juices get flowing to the point where i get overwhelmed.
she told me, gently, that i am in a unique spot. that yes, i have to work 9-5 right now because there are bills to be paid and a team i really like being a part of. but that i have the unique opportunity to grow slow, to be picky about the photos i shoot, and the trips i take. that she was proud of me for choosing to work again at Anthropologie once a week and reaching out to photographers/creatives to grab coffee or shoot together. that there is not right path and that this has always been fun for me, so try not to ruin it with the view of other girls i follow on IG that are able to do it full-time.
the golden ticket of that conversation was when she reminded me that these feelings i had of being disappointed of not being able to capture all the ideas in my head or pursue some creative arenas more full time were all placed on me…by me.
i had essentially put myself in this state of panic and overwhelmedness (aware that that’s not a word). this happens to me kind of a lot. i just get really excited about life and all the opportunities for creativity and travel and photos. i literally am sitting in bed right now in California with like 83925209 ideas for photos just around town and mentally planning 4 trips. and i wouldn’t change that part of myself for the world! but those thoughts had overwhelmed me instead of motivated me as i realized i couldn’t do all those things in a week or pay for all those trips or get the camera right that instant (although i was able to a month later!).
i have only ever felt this way once before. it was sophomore year of college and i was director of recruitment for my sorority. i had gone from an extremely busy summer, to helping with new student move-in and straight into practices every night for recruitment. i sat down in the library and felt the same state of “i don’t even know what to do next,” called my mom, walked around campus and felt better the next day.
these intense feelings of anxiety lasted for about 5 days. i just did not feel myself. as you can tell from my Instagram or here on the blog, i am a pretty happy person. i of course have days where i feel off but i am usually searching for something fun or adventurous to do when that happens. i really don’t like to sit around moping for that long. because obviously that’s not going to help me!
this episode really freaked me out and i told myself that it was up to me to be proactive in not letting that happen again. i do a couple new things like reading my devotional, setting aside time during the week for rest and eating well but the big change was committing to running most mornings.
you have probably seen on my IG stories when i say “something is better than nothing” over my tired, sweaty face after getting up at 5:45 am to run. i do not do this to lose weight or to have a bikini bod or to burn calories.
i run because i know i am a better coworker, dreamer, creator, daughter, sister and friend if i do. i feel more clear headed. i have better energy and don’t have to rely on caffeine or turn to sugar for a boost. i am not perfect at this. i’d say i am at about 5 days per week and most days i’m trudging through it.
here are the lies though that i was telling myself and you probably are too: i am not cut out for morning runs/workouts. that if i can’t run a solid 4 miles, it’s probably not worth it. that i am tired and hey, those people working out are probably entrepreneurs who can get up at 8. they have energy, i don’t. they have a personal trainer, i have the cement sidewalk outside. oh, and 30 minutes of sleep is definitely better for me. because did i mention i am tired? like really tired. also i don’t want to shower in the morning. ugh, i would never be on time for work. yeah, i am just not going to.
but those are truly lies!
here’s what i have realized since running in the am:
it’s true what everyone said: you feel amazing the rest of the day. i make healthier choices, i drink more water and less caffeine, and i feel more motivated. aka less overwhelmed and more apt to realize when my dreams need to be put into smaller, doable chunks.
30 mins of sleep does not make a difference vs. getting your body moving. movement wins every time.
something is better than nothing. i started VERY small. i ran pitifully and was at first just relying on an afternoon walk after work. but then it was hard to have energy after a full day to do much of anything. BUT i was getting moving and starting somewhere. be gentle with yourself!
it’s also true what those crazies said aka my mom: you’ll crave it. you’ll get used to it and you’ll want the endorphins to jump start your day. moms are always right.
the reason this post is called “30 mins a day keeps the anxiety away” is because i heard recently on a podcast that if you do 30 minutes of physical exercise 6 days of the week, it’s the equivalent to taking an anti-depression medication. i don’t suffer from anxiety or depression and would never want to sound like running could cure all, but i can see how this would help from my own personal experience. it has helped me tremendously to just feel better about myself and my progress in work, my dreams or my travel plans. i am home on vacation and still running when i wake up!
i am not going to tell you it’s easy. but what i will say is that it’s not easy for that fit girl you saw at Trader Joe’s or your coworker or your friend. everyone is busy. everyone is tired. everyone has things to do, people to see, work to do. most people our age don’t wake up ready to run. if you do, let me know what you’re doing that i’m not. 😉
the choice is whether or not you want to be proactive or reactive. those feelings of anxiety scared me. i didn’t like the person i became that week. i felt scared, paralyzed and overwhelmed. i had to be reactive to those feelings and there wasn’t much i felt i could do other than wait for it to pass.
so i am being proactive. the same way i am with the food i eat or the books i read or the friendships i have. i am making moves to make sure that i don’t have to be reactive in moments of overwhelming Sunday nights.
i am running and moving and choosing the stairs instead of the elevator and trips over clothes and small steps over giant leaps. i really hope this helps someone who needs a gentle nudge to get moving. the next time you want to treat yourself, choose a yoga class or a long walk in the park or a new fitness routine like orange theory or pure barre. choose something that will clear your head, helping you and helping others who know and love you!!!
as i trudge on with this challenge to myself, i will share little tips and realness over on my IG stories. but here’s the true bottom line: if your motivation for working out and moving is for your own mental health, it will motivate you to get your booty out of bed every. damn. time. seriously it does without freaking fail. the perfect body or the cake you ate or whatever will not motivate you every time. you’ll find an excuse — or at least i did. so get a playlist loaded and get moving — it just takes 30 minutes a day! 🙂
the story i tell myself with blogging is that no one reads this. that it’s a waste of time. that i have no influence, that girls have other cooler bloggers to read with huge budgets and sponsorships and legitimacy, and i am no different than any other girl on the web who has style and a cute room. i mean, who doesn’t have a good IG feed these days? why am i different? does it make me prideful to think that i am different, that i have a unique voice, that girls my age would benefit from my musings and advice? also, people must think i’m a lunatic. i mean, do they wonder who takes my photos? do they think i make money from this? does anyone else do things anymore just because it makes them happy? do i need a reason to blog — whether that’s money or fame? do i repel people with my honesty? would it be better to be cool and vague? ugh, i’m not good at being cool and vague.
okay i just typed that in like 3 minutes. seriously. WHAT. brene brown writes a lot about how we make up stories in our heads and we live those fake realities. never have i ever resonated with something more.
i have been so in my head about this space lately and i just don’t even know why!!! and i have a feeling you might have a story you’re making up in your mind about your life that is reaaaaaally far from the truth, too. i feel (*felt) crushed by expectations with this blog and they’re all placed on me by me. anyone else? you’re not alone.
so i am rewriting the story i tell myself about my blog. from now on, i am going to tell myself that girls look forward to my posts, knowing that i’ll bring the raw and vulnerable and joyful. that people enjoy my style and learn how to dress like they have a closet straight from Anthro heaven but in reality sometimes buy their clothes at the thrift store. that someone might take my advice on designing an apartment on a budget that makes you happy to come home.
you might be wondering where this came from. that’s valid.
a girl DMed me on instagram this week and asked me for recommendations of other blogs to follow who keep it real – you know, gals in their twenties who love lovely things but also know that life isn’t one big, beautiful Instagram feed!
i was so stumped.
i suggested a couple girls who have blogs/instagrams that are beautiful accompanied with beautiful words but i was genuinely struggling to think of bloggers who write alongside me in this niche of real-life 20-somethings. actually, now that i think of it, i don’t follow any other bloggers that are my age.
then this got me thinking about my blog. y’all know i’m a thinker.
these are the questions that popped up in my head: what do i want this space to be? where does photography fit in? what kind of content do i want to post? how seriously do i want to take this? what do i need to do to give myself time to create weekly content? what are the posts with the biggest number of readers? why are they the most ‘popular’? would i ever do sponsored content if this got to that point? if so, what would i do?
yeahhhhhhh. i think a lot. both a blessing and a curse. 😉
all these questions stirred in me a need to just re-introduce myself and share my dreams for this space so you can see if you want to follow along. i just want to level the playing field, so to speak. my biggest fear as a blogger is that you won’t relate to my content because i feel like a 20-something that has it all together.
because i totally don’t. for example…
i literally almost just cried trying to get to this darn coffee shop because i felt so overwhelmed by lots of little things and a weekend that sped by and oh shoot i need groceries but wait where is my budget currently and then my dead succulent fell over in my car that i wanted to return and dirt got everywhere but who cares because i still haven’t made time to vacuum my car since i wanted to BACK IN APRIL and i looked at the gas gauge and frik me i’m almost out of gas. then i remembered i forgot the memory disk of photos i wanted to edit at home and OH MY GOSH IT’S ALREADY ALMOST 3 JEE ANIA JUST SCREW THE PHOTOS AND GET TO THE CAFE. then i got weepy again because i just was kind of lonely and hadn’t hung out with friends in a while and do i even have friends bah humbug post grad is hard and i am dramatic and can i move to colorado yet wait should i buy a ticket to colorado no wait until you get paid this week to figure that out and then i made some chicken and then i melted of heat in my apartment and THEN I FINALLY MADE IT TO SAID COFFEESHOP MULTIPLE HOURS LATER.
see? just a girl here on the other side of the screen.
the girl talked me in to a salted caramel frozen coffee. all i wanted was a water. and by talked me into, i mean to say that i was feeling sorry for myself and wanted to pregame the ice cream i am going to get later. sue me.
so can i just hit refresh on this blog and stop wondering if my content is blog-worthy and just treat this as a diary of a 23 year old who wonders if she’ll kill her plants and if her hair will ever grow and if anyone feel vulnerable as frik in their first job? because that’s what i’m about to do.
i want to fill a gap that i see in the blogsphere which is for all you gals that wonder if their future husband sometimes dreams of traveling the world together and has a Pinterest board of engagement rings even though they are nowhere near marriage but totally already know what robe they want to get ready in the morning of and the flowers they want in their bouquet and sometimes just stands in their living room wondering at what age one should buy an adult couch for their apartment instead of the floral grandma couch that currently sits there for you when you get home from a long day of work and also how long you can let chicken sit out in the water before it goes bad? anyone?
so let me introduce myself.
hi, i’m ania! no one calls me ania elizabeth if you were wondering. i needed a name for the blog and decided my first and middle name was cute together and didn’t want to deal with changing it when i get married. no no, i am not about to get married. single and ready to mingle and eat a pringle. actually jk, i can’t eat pringles! i am allergic to wheat, soy, egg whites and most nuts. yes, i understand it sounds like my life is over etc etc but i can still eat ice cream. so rest assured that i am doing juuuust fine. i used to post recipes and such here but honestly, in this season of my life, i am just eating on a budget so i can pay for my travel dreams and new photography gear! and little plants. and things for my apartment. i know i will have a season of life when i am married and have a husband who i want to cook for and kiddos that i want to please but right now i am completely fine with eating simply.
for those of you who think i work at Anthropologie for a living, i totally could see how that was perceived from my IG. but it’s just because my 8-4 isn’t as, well, aesthetically pleasing since i work in a cube — although a very CUTE cube, i must say. 😉 i have a post coming soon about how to feel comfortable in a business environment that looks a little more corporate than you were expecting with tips for decorating your space and making it feel like you. along with how to dress “business-y” without losing your own personal style!
i do all things creative for a leadership institute here in st. louis — design, branding, advertising/marketing, collaborating on photography/videography projects, event support, etc. and i really like it! is it exactly what i thought i would be doing post grad? nope. not even close. i wanted to move to a new city, preferably in the West or abroad, working for a small agency surrounded by creatives so i could learn and work hard, proving myself. or working at the UBRN headquarters in Philly! no where in my brain did i want to move back to st. louis. but i have been trying to live open to His plan for me so i don’t miss out on something amazing while i pursue what i think i need and want so i said yes to this opportunity and i’m very glad i did.
but something else you must know about me is that my work has never and will never been my defining character. i love my job and the change we’re making in the world. seriously. never seen so many man-tears in my life! but it is also just a job. and when i leave, i leave it at work! no matter how meaningful work is, it is just work and that is not where my value lies. plus i love my life outside of that cube so very much!
which brings me to the majority of what you see on my Instagram – ma vie quotidienne as seen through VSCO filters.
oh gosh, how do i explain my outside work life? yeeeesh. i do a lot. i just live large, ya know? this is not meant to get morbid all of a sudden, but before the age of 21, i knew about 7 kids my age who passed away. i think at some point, it just really seeps into your bones after funerals and seeing families being broken apart and teen suicide stories that life is short. and that the days may be long but the years pass in the blink of an eye. so i don’t live half arse. i am not about to waste the days that were stolen from others.
so my outside-work-life includes:
playing around with photography. i used to tell myself that if i wasn’t making thousands off of it, i shouldn’t do it. but that’s not really the point. i just like to create beautiful things and sometimes my head gets so bogged down by what i see that i need to capture it and bring the image to life. it is also my way of showing the daily beauty that many pass over in pursuit of whatever the next big thing is or the next stage of life brings. i’m building a separate site and IG for that to be revealed later this summer! i thought that at first i wanted to keep my blog and photog together but i don’t want to be a blogger that needs a professional quality photo for every post and you all didn’t follow me to get spammed with girls in wedding dresses so when that is live, you can follow along if you’re interested! and i’ll post a couple on the ania elizabeth account every so often.
working at Anthropologie once a week. i used to work at the Albuquerque location when i was in college on holiday. then i worked at the Fresno location while living at home with my parents last summer for about 6 months. then i wandered into Free People in St. Louis the day i moved back (i went to saint louis university!) here last November 2016 and they needed people for holiday hire so i worked there once a week over the holidays. but i missed Anthro so much. so i walked into the St. Louis location about a month ago, waltzed up to an employee and asked if i could come back because darn i miss it so much and would you let me just come in one night a week? and she said yes. the end. also, the discount helps me get clothes for work without taking away from my travel budget and candles and all the pretty little things you find in Anthro corners. it keeps me inspired and fills a big part of me that my full-time job doesn’t. and it’s another way to make new friends!
blogging here. i mainly want to focus on style, home design and my musings on the roller coaster that is my twenties. what can you expect? i think that is best answered by what makes me happy. i love braids, flowers, Pinterest, traveling, hand-lettering, trying new things, finding new places, healthy living, maybe essential oils soon if i can ever stop buying plane tickets long enough to buy the starter kit. i started out creating content based on my life. then i started creating content first and not really sharing much about my life. so i am trying to get back to the beginning! i am not letting myself believe that my life isn’t exciting enough for you all because i think what we all need is someone who lives an extraordinary ordinary life. or so i hope.
building community. not much to say there other than i love people and hosting people and planning things that will make my friends happy and sharing my life with people. that’s the biggest reason i love this corner of the web! having girls reach out and relate to me is so fun!!!! especially in a season of post grad loneliness.
hanging with my sister, brother in law and little nephew. my parents live in california (and have lived in washington, colorado and new mexico before that!) and my brother lives in denver so i love having a little piece of home here in st. louis. they’re great. and xavier is the cutest baby in the world. #notbiased
traveling. i love it. i love it so much that sometimes i work myself up and my mom has to talk me down because i get anxious about how much there is yet to see in the world and my dad is like ania, you’re 23. hehehehe. currently on the horizon aka the travel schedule i have in my head that is only final there in my cranium: california to visit my parents, denver (i miss it so much), hawaii (my friend’s truth is hawaii. end of story. i need to get her there. stay tuned.), potentially south africa to visit my friend who moved there two years ago aaaaand i want to go to thailand. and boston. and utah. and nashville and chicago again and you know, the list just really never ends.
creating and designing. i spend a lot of time per week just creating little things. i’ll turn on mumford and sons and just edit photos, design future photo shoots, pin little pictures to my wall, redesign the layout of my apartment, go through old magazines, wander through a thrift shop, snap photos of friends, write pretty phrases in pretty writing. i just like to create and i seek Beauty everywhere.
loving my faith. a while ago i read something along the lines of bloggers not posting things about their faith because you won’t attract the biggest crowd possible and i was like…..oh. that’s not the way i roll. to tell you about me is to tell you about God’s plan for my life. i couldn’t separate this space from that thought if i wanted to. which i don’t. i do vow to never be pushy because i understand that everyone has a different relationship with God and not everyone in the world is Catholic but i just wouldn’t feel honest leaving that part out of this blog.
ok. P H E W. did this post help level the playing field? do you feel like my friend now and could see me doing laundry just as much as you can picture me posing awkwardly for a photo for the blog because i love a dress and want to share it? i do hope so!
woah. i feel so good about this space again! rejuvenated! excited! hopeful! God is good! see you soon! i really want to be here twice a week so keep coming back if you liked what you read today.
ps thank you for the encouragement lately. the main reason i sat down today is because two weeks ago, i asked Him to make His plans for me clear as i struggled to prioritize this and was overwhelmed with the story in my head that there wasn’t room for me at the table. i had about five girls reach out and express how they appreciated how i showed up honest here. it was so clear it was almost uncanny. thank you for all of you who followed that urge to say something! it means so much to me every time someone reaches out. i screenshot all of them and have them in a little folder on my phone. 🙂
i was at church the Sunday before Easter and the priest saying the homily literally punched me in the gut. (*okay, not literallyyyyy. my priest is the nicest man you could ever meet.) he advised us to think about something we struggle with. pride, humility, shame, anxiety, worrying, jealousy, vanity.
then he suggested we give up that emotion for Lent.
every year for Lent, i give up sweets. it’s just a thing i do because i told myself i needed a reminder in my day-to-day life and since i have a major sweet tooth, it definitely is a daily reminder.
this Lent, like usual, i tried to give up a million things and tack on a million more. even though i tried to keep it simple, it was still too much for 40 days and i could feel in my heart that i wasn’t really getting the fruit of this season because per usual, i wanted to do it all and have the BEST LENT EVER. #storyofmylife
so i really started to concentrate just on giving up fear. i broke the sweets thing a couple of times randomly. it was even in a vengeful spirit — i just literally felt so detached from that resolution. i already eat very minimal sugar so it just didn’t feel like i was doing much more. i have been giving up sweets for probably 8ish years and i have really never grown from Lent. that’s embarrassing to admit because i keep doing it every year but here we are. #keepingitreal
i started to work through giving up fear and focused on trusting in Him in all the hard areas where i don’t want to give up control (future spouse, future family, future kids, future career — can you tell a theme? 😉 ).
i realized in a (large) moment of humility, that for the past 22 Lenten seasons, i have been leaning on sweets as my crutch to have a “good Lent.”
but the crazy part was that then i started to see how this plays out all over my life. a great example is exercise and nutrition. i was leaning on small improvements (no sugar, less alcohol, more raw foods) to make me feel like i was making this huge shift towards treating my body better from the inside out. those aren’t even really changes from my normal life to be honest — i already eat that way after growing up with a foreign mom who didn’t understand the concept of doritos. 😉
what i really wanted to do was to exercise more. but that’s hard. like who has time or energy for that? not i. but once i started to get back into running and paying attention to the steps goal on my Fitbit, i really felt the progress i had wanted to feel all along.
wait let me clarify. not progress like “and she lost 249580 pounds overnight!”. i don’t care about that part. when i say progress, i mean that i had finally did THE hard thing that i had wanted to do all along. i stopped focusing on the food part because that was natural to me and really tackled my big fear, which was that i had lost my love of running altogether and i was scared to confront that. college ruined my perception of exercise and i was nervous that i wouldn’t ever crave it like i did in high school.
i am making this comparison because in Lent, giving up sweets was the equivalent to eating healthy. it wasn’t hard. i mean it was hard, because let’s be real i love ice cream, but i was leaning on it because i knew i could do it and it was something to check off my list. i would wake up Easter morning and eat sweets, proud that i got through 40 days without any sugar.
but you see, i had used sweets as my crutch. EVERY year, i also gave up more important things or tried a new positive change. but those fell wayside. because they were hard. and i knew that at least i could give up sweets and pat myself on the back 40 days later.
once this clicked, it was like all speed ahead. i leaned more and more into letting go of fear, reaching out to people and showing up as the most authentic version of me.
i wore a long pretty dress to mass instead of saving it for the “one day that i’ll need this dress and it’ll be perfect,” because i don’t want to wait for that day.
i shamelessly reconnected with friends, unafraid that they might judge me for not keeping in better touch throughout the years and the moves.
i shared more and more on instagram about my love for style and design, even though sometimes i feel awkward doing that when most of my followers are still my friends from school. i really have no idea what i am doing as a “lifestyle blogger + photographer” but i do know that i love it.
i just showed up as fearlessly as i could.
this part makes me emotional because it radically changes your life when you embrace it: what would happen if we, especially we as women, all acted in full trust in His goodness for our lives? if we all woke up everyday, choosing to see our life through God’s eyes, full of promise, hope and crazy big dreams that are so scary to think we, just your average gal, could achieve?
it’s easy to read this on some motivational poster and think “aw, that’s so true” but when you really, truly LIVE that way, it will change you. i am starting to feel this freedom i have never felt and i would say i have been, for the most part, a relatively confidant gal for most of my life. but now i just am giddy about life because i am no longer in a white knuckle grip of my life: i handed over the reigns to the One who knows me best.
God wants us to live, really live this bold, beautiful life he created for us. and how privileged we are to live in a society that lets us, for the most part, live the way we want. we have homes, food on the table, people that care about us and yet we continuously settle time and time again for the sand castles we make in the mud, convincing ourselves that we aren’t cool enough, thin enough, smart enough, talented enough, wealthy enough to do that, whatever that is for you.
well guess what: YOU ARE ENOUGH. you’re MORE than enough.
i call this way of living “terrifying & EXCITING” because it is. i talked in a mad rush about this whole idea to my best friend on the phone the other day as i paced around target. i talked her through a recent situation where i had to really just trust His plan and do my part but really trust that He would show me the truth. but i also had to show up and be present.
i kept saying “it’s terrifying” and she kept respond “AND EXCITING”. “it’s terrifying”. “AND EXCITING”. and that’s just the gosh darn truth. giving up fear made me realize how terrifying and exciting life can be. i understand now what it means to be fearful of the Lord and His mighty power. He can do BIG things in our lives. and that’s terrifying. but it’s also exciting. cheers to lives of terrifying and exciting proportions.
** i can’t recommend enough trying this fast of fear! just give up fear for a month, a week, whatever! this is not advice to do stupid things (please don’t make me regret this). i just want you to be bold. email that girl you admire and ask to meet for coffee. tell that boy you have a fat crush on him. plant a garden. plan a trip. call a friend you lost touch with. go on a run. pray for something that just seems too good to be true. just be fearless. (cue taylor swift)
winter is over and so is my worst ever reading record. between moving back to st. louis, getting settled in my new job and falling into bed every night, i read an all time low of two books. buuuuuut in my defense, i also crawled through one of them because it was so good and required being reread over and over.
but anywho, spring will be better. so without further ado…my winter reads!
“rising strong” by brene brown : this book. oooohhhh this book will rock you and make you really think about what it means to rise after falling. but also what it means to dare enough to fall. brene is one of my all time favorite authors. she has a way of combining her personal stories, research and a conversational tone that makes you really understand, reread every page and feel an urge to change. this book is an anthem to everyone who is showing up vulnerable and getting back up time and time again. every book i read by her is amazing.
“present over perfect” by shauna niequist : this book was an affirmation of so much that i believe. we have this present moment, of that we are sure of. but it’s so easy to get caught up in the instagram “reality” or looking forward. shauna bares her heart and talks about her own struggles with accepting the present along with learning to say no. it was a quick read and would also double as a great gift to a friend.
i am about to start “lean in” by cheryl sandberg and from there, i’m off to the races! spending more time this season with my nose buried in a book.
if i hear the term “boss lady” one more time, i’ll burst. like a straight up gusher.
i was finally able to pin down why that phrase was rattling me the other day: no one says how to be a boss lady. when i see it in an instagram caption or a friend mentions it in passing, i often laugh and agree. yeah, let’s be boss ladies.
but then recently, i just get annoyed. and i realized it was because every time i heard it, it was just a phrase. there was no action step, no friendly helpful ideas. i see every blogger, magazine and friend say it but i felt overwhelmed with how to do it.
since one of my pet peeves is when people complain about things they can fix, i’m going to try in my own way to help fix this problem and suggest 11 ways to be a kind, smart, gracious lady.:)
stop gossiping. we need to build each other UP not break down. speak kindly, act kindly.
bring a new mom a meal and offer to do something small for her – run an errand, vacuum, load the dishwasher, etc. let her know that you’re there for her. don’t know one? offer a new student, a new girl at work or the girl next to you in class a helping hand.
mentor someone. this doesn’t have to be in a program – i have a couple of friends who are younger than me that i try to check in on every so often and offer a listening ear as they go through struggles that i might have already been through. being a big sister is such a thrill! #wishfulthinking
clean out your closet and donate your excess clothes to a women’s shelter. i have found that it really helps me to physically drive to one and drop it off. i try to know that i am fortunate but it’s easy to feel like you have less in this race for more, more, more. when i go and help other women, it makes me feel part of something bigger and adjusts my perspective.
do something sweet for your mom every week. maybe that’s making time for face timing, sending her a card or shooting her a quick “good morning” text every morning. we love to encourage young, new moms but what about our moms who are still new to it everyday? let’s love them fiercely.
pay an honest compliment to one lady everyday. hopefully something different than “i like your shoes” and more along the lines of “your input in that meeting was impressive,” “your joy is contagious,” or “i hope you know how wonderful you are!”
recommend an empowering book to a friend who is struggling with accepting herself. some of my favorites are rising strong, cold tangerines and present over perfect.
pray for your enemies twice as much as for those you love.
help a mom in the grocery store with her bags or an elderly woman with the door. let’s love women at all ages. <3
send a strong female figure a letter thanking them. or better yet – call them. can you imagine how much it’d mean to them for you to thank them for the example they set? i mean praise freaking hands all around. plus a couple of dancing lady in the red dress emojis.
and can i throw everyone for a twist and say that maybe we could show the supportive, strong men in our life some love as well? let’s build a longer table, not a higher fence and thank them for being good examples of gentlemen, of feminists, of kind people who love us right where we are. i wouldn’t want my life without some of the men in it and i am sure many of you could say the same.:)
now i can say go be a kind, bold, courageous boss lady — because now we all have an idea how! i still feel so happy to have started this little blog and have a circle of gal pals who support this creative venture of mine. 🙂
do you have ideas for how to be a boss lady? tricks up your sleeve? i’d so love to hear them!
i know that is probably the world’s worst blog post title, but honestly i just wanted to get down here where i can write about what i mean by it. it just needs to come tumbling out!
i have always had a soft spot towards the homeless and those in need. really anyone in need, but in this scenario, those living without a stable home base. i really have a hard time seeing people sleeping on the ground or knowing that they probably live in constant fear for their next meal or even for their life.
but lately, i have been basically beside myself when i see someone shivering outside my window, barely able to make eye contact, waiting for someone to have mercy on them as they stand in wet clothes from the rain. how little they have and how much i have. it is so cold in missouri in the winter. it’s this bitter, wet cold that seeps into your bones and takes me a solid two hours to warm back up after coming in from outside. so to see someone outside in it? it’s devastating.
i have just had this on my heart a lot lately. then last night i was reading ‘rising strong’ by brene brown (great book by the way) and she has a section about exactly what i have been feeling.
she was at an event and the man said the following line,
“when you look away from a homeless person, you diminish their humanity and your own.”
the reason that line is even more profound than just because of what it says is because that is something i have been sitting on for the last 5 years. when i was in high school, a youth group leader once told me that it is not up to me to judge what someone will do with the food, money or clothes i offer them. it is just up to me to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, take care of the sick – and god can judge. in fact, He is the only one that can judge.
we talked about how we need to see Jesus in them. they are not worthy of having us avert our eyes just because they are dirty or make us uncomfortable. they are the image of Jesus just as much as any of us are. we deserve them, at the very least, eye contact.
so to read that in brene brown’s book this many years later was so impactful and especially lately i have been even more aware of how i treat people with so little and what i can offer them.
at this point you’re probably like literally where are you going with this, ania?
what i wanted to share is that i think i figured out why it’s been so heavy on me lately. as i have tried this “minimalist” lifestyle of really trying to detach myself from material items, that mindset has spread into so many other areas of my life in such a positive, unexpected way. this story is one example.
i think i am just really seeing them in their need as i have gotten rid of the excess i had lived in and have really honed in on what matters, what i need. yes, i still like to spend money on pleasures and clothes but i am 100000% more intentional. and i want to give just as much as i get.
i just realized reading last night that a big shift in my heart happened somewhere in the last couple of months between all the clothing purges and even in the last week as i have wrestled (in a good way) with my new year’s resolution of rerooting my identity. gosh, i am almost getting emotional thinking about this unexpected grace. who would’ve known that getting rid of garbage bags of clothing would in turn affect you like this?
and i really want to do something about it.
if you are local to the st. louis area, i would love if anyone has any suggestions for places to donate meals, food, clothing or time.
p.s. if you want to read more about ‘the great purge of summer 2016’ as my friend, mom and i fondly call it, you can read the series in part i, part ii and part iii. also read the book seven by jen hatmaker. that’s what really did me in.
i have been thinking a lot about why 2016 was the first year that i really felt growth from my new year’s resolutions. and i think i nailed it down in two pieces:
i focused on parts of myself that i didn’t like and made resolutions to follow. i didn’t like how negativity popped up instead of optimism, so i tried to push myself to see the good first and foremost. i realized that i didn’t want more things but more memories, so i budgeted for some small trips to san diego, carmel and denver. i realized i didn’t like all the jealousy i had in my heart so i stopped thinking that people were perfect or had the lives in their instagrams and really trained myself to know that comparing will rob me of everything. literally everything. joy, contentment, peace, gratitude. i realized that i had lost my love for working out in the midst of some extremists in college and want to love being fit again not because i would lose a pound here or there but because of the rush of endorphins and the guarantee for a healthier tomorrow.
i focused on the intangibles. to be honest, january is not a great time for someone who just spent loads of money on christmas presents and great sales to be like “oh yes, this will be the year i travel abroad.” i save my live list/bucket list/physical i-can-check-that-off list for my birthday in august when i feel refreshed and have more brain space than immediately following basically the busiest time of the year. also, i am always making goals and reading self-development books and stalking brene brown etc. etc. so new year’s goal sheets and planners and financial tips just overwhelm me right after the buzz of the holidays. so i keep it simple and focus my resolutions on things that i want to become part of ania. for 2016, it was choosing joy and seeing people as people, not perfect images on instagram. it was also spending 30 minutes of fitness everyday and choosing to travel instead of have some new shoes or accessories.
and looking back, 2016 has been one of my most joyful years. not because of perfect circumstances because holy smokes, between second semester being one of the most difficult and emotionally draining of my life, moving home, taking care of my mom, the scare with my nephew, feel unstable and undirected in every sense of the word, being rejected from jobs, getting a job, moving back to the city i swore i wouldn’t move back to and everything in-between, there was plentyyyyy of space for whining and griping and enlarging my woes. but i c l u n g to choosing joy like my freaking anchor and lo and behold, it worked. joy to the world.
it was ALL but because of my attitude shift. i just simply chose joy more. and i focused especially on everyday life. i know it’s probably almost annoying to the people around me but i think when you really start to live in gratitude and see tiny flickers of hope and joy in the everyday, it really changes you. at least it changed me. and i like this version of ania a lot more than the moody, “i am always busier, more tired and more broke than anyone ever” version. things like seeing my nephew for 20 minutes after work, cooking a good meal for friends, taking a walk to crunch through the leaves – these are the good things in life, i have come to realize. traveling will always be such a big part of my passion but not truly a big part of my life (at least right now).
SO 2K17 RESOLUTIONS WASSUPPPPPPPP.
things i have been thinking about that i don’t super love about myself… #honestyisthethemeofthispost
something that came to light this summer that was not so bueno was how heavily i have placed my identity in earthly things. particularly where i lived post grad and what my job was if we’re speaking recently. the fact that i might work in a cube K I L L E D me. i mean seriously it did. i had straight up anxiety when i left my job interview FOR THE FREAKING JOB I LOVE AND HAVE NOW. all because of the cubes. truly, i am the worst. but i had placed my identity in some trendy corner of NY so God literally had to wrench it off that and on Him by placing in my hands one of the biggest blessings with my current position. which yes, involves a cube. and i don’t mind at all.
other things include but are not limited to: my blog compared to others’ which are amaze balls, my photography, my wardrobe…the list goes onnnnnn but i don’t really want you all to realize how vain i can be. hehehehe.;)
so my 2017 resolution is to “reroot my identity”.
i want to root my identity firmly in what is worthy of my time and energy. aka i want to root myself in Him. reallllyyyyy spread them out in good, fertile ground.
if i work in a cube or don’t meet the love of my life tomorrow or don’t have my apartment the way i want it to look, it shouldn’t matter. because if i am on solid ground and don’t build a house around me of tiny twigs of vanity, self-love and jealousy, than those things won’t matter. because what does matter is getting to heaven. if we’re really just getting sups real.
so at the end of 2017, i want to look back and see that every time i found myself clinging to earthly temptations, i tore myself away and spent more time with Him. or His kingdom.
this doesn’t mean i am not going to shop, decorate my apartment or travel in 2017. but if none of those things happen, ill be fine. if i don’t in some way become a better version of myself, i think i’d be a leeeetle more disappointed than if i don’t make it to new york.
i also love how choosing a phrase can be applied to multiple aspects of my life. for example, i am going to continue to reroot my identity from some perfect, unattainable body to healthy and fit. i am going to reroot my identity from fast, fast, fast changes to my apartment, wardrobe and travel schedule and remember that patience is a virtue. i am going to reroot my identity from the clothes i wear to the people and places i visit.
i am excited for 2017. i love the feeling of a fresh start. but if this isn’t the best time for you to make resolutions, then don’t. set a goal of making resolutions by valentine’s day or even later. i hate the idea that this time is the only time for goals or resolutions. there is nothing wrong with setting a small goal for winter and then revisiting in spring.
i love my 23 year bucket list and my little new year’s resolutions combo. it’s a good fit for me so hopefully it helps you know that whatever works for you is what works for you and at the end of the day, that’s the best you can do. <3
i see you getting to the library early in the am as your roommates sleep off a night of drinks while you fell into bed the night before exhausted after class, work and meetings.
i see you pushing through the last mile of your run because you’re determined to be healthy, to live longer and better than those before you.
i see you teaching yourself new skills because you’re passionate about something no one around you knows anything about.
i see you questioning every starbucks you buy and every grocery receipt, wondering if you should’ve splurged on that fancy box of cereal.
i see you laying awake at night praying for your future spouse, your future children, your future.
i see you staying after class to ask just one more question, get one more review of your paper, learn one more way to solve the problem.
i see you letting yourself be a child in your awe of big christmas trees, shining lights and bright stars.
i see you saving money, getting the least expensive drink at the bar and hoping your friends remember to repay you for the uber.
i see you staying up late and waking up early, the first one to arrive at your final and the last one to leave.
i see you going to mass by yourself at lunch, surrounded by the elderly.
i see you choosing the longer of the two dresses for formal, not drinking so you can get your friends home safe, choosing to not go out at all because you’re nervous that you’re not “wild” enough for the night your friends have planned.
i see you relishing in a night at home, reading a good book and breathing in your new candle.
i see you trying new recipes, trying new running paths, just trying new things.
i see you choosing joy despite another dirty diaper, another afternoon of tears and self-doubt as a new mom.
most of all, i see you choosing all of this when no one at all is looking, especially not instagram.
i may not be able to really see you but i want you to know that there are people our age, the “millennials”, working hard, saving money, trying to be good christians in today’s world.
in this lens of social media, it’s easy to feel unknown even though we’re really as exposed as we’ve ever been. i remember thinking in college that i had to be the only one who stressed about money, relationships, my faith, today’s society, etc because NO ONE TALKS ABOUT THESE THINGS.
but what i realized this summer is that everyone is going through something rough, carrying their own cross, and we all should be kind to each other regardless of whether we know the weight of their cross or not.
it’s not up to someone to tell me their life story or convince me how rough they have it or prove it to me in every instagram post. i should be treating them with kindness before a word comes out of their mouth or proof of their hardship is in front of me.
so here i am. little ania laying in bed typing this because i want you to feel known and seen in this crazy world. there ARE other people working their booties off just like you, who have big dreams for themselves just like you, who feel self-doubt just like you, who choose joy just like you. but you have to know that they might not tell you, maybe not at first, but they’re trying too.
i don’t want you to feel alone in this blur of pretty instagram photos. every so often i want to pop in here and tell you i see you, you have worth just by being who you are and your hard work will pay off.
have courage and be kind.
wrote this quickly in place of a style post (coming at ya live wednesday!) because i just feel like this monday post needed a little more oomph.