Thoughts On Friendship

Thoughts On Friendship

“I’m finally understanding the peace that comes with not defending yourself. I have been misunderstood so many times over the years and by people that really mattered to me. I used to absolutely crumble if someone I cared about misunderstood me in a negative way. I’d spin for days. Weeks! I’ve had friends tell all their/our other friends about their perspective and paint me out to be A,B or C. (And you know what? I’ve done that to friends in my life as well, when in my brokenness I needed to be right).

I used to spend a lot of time scrambling to make sure my name was cleared and that everyone knew I really wasn’t the kind of person rumor had it I was. In the last year, something new has clicked for me: If someone wants to understand you or find positive resolution, even if they’re hurt, they will try to with vulnerability. They will ask. They will set aside their anger or hurt and make an effort to see things from your perspective. But if they just need to be right, there is nothing you can say to make them understand or to bring about positive resolution. Sometimes the fear of what it would mean for us to be wrong is so crippling that we will crush everything which threatens our need to control. Including accountability or even long-standing friendships. Because trusting someone is scary, and fear makes us do crazy things. I’ve really only just started applying this tactic of being comfortable with being misunderstood. It’s painful at first. The injustice of not being rightfully exonerated! But it’s amazing how easy it became to identify the people I really want around me- and those I don’t. Not with anger, pride or distaste, but just an understanding that defending myself in those scenarios isn’t useful.

I hope this encourages some of you. It’s okay to be misunderstood. The people who know and love you will attest to your proven character when a conflict arises. They’ll assume you’ve been misunderstood before they assume something bad they thought or heard is correct. So mark it- keep an eye out. Real friends will be willing to have awkward or hard conversations with you. THOSE are the people you want around.” – @joylenz

I’ve had these words saved for some time because this has been a long, hard, painful at times lesson for me to learn in my twenties. But when you truly let go and KNOW who’s in your corner, all of that above becomes less important and peace floods in. I was like this and have reached a point in my life that I cherish who I have and really invest in them instead of trying to please everyone else. Because you never will. You’ll always be perceived a certain way to someone who isn’t willing to be vulnerable, to work through, confront, or ask. Bottom line, cherish those who are there. No matter what. Those who truly love you, support you, and know your heart. I’ve been blessed with some of the best women and these two are some of the few who have my heart. They knew I needed a pick me up last week and made a 5+ hour road trip to surprise me and make it happen. Love you, Jess and Tiff! You’ve taught me so much about all of this and how to also be a better listener, doer, mom, and friend!

Barn House Christmas

Barn House Christmas

It’s our favorite time of year, especially around the house. I don’t do a ton of decorating because too much makes our small space feel so cluttered but I love adding festive touches here and there that gives our home a more cozy feel.

I wanted to share a few areas I’ve styled for Christmas. Our living, kitchen and dining is one large area. We don’t have a fireplace or mantel so I’ve been using command hooks on our barn door to hang our stockings for a few years now and I love it just as much.

This is pretty much what my set up in this area looks like all of the time minus the stockings and wreath around the calf head. Also, I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but this cabinet was given to me by my Grand. It was one of my favorite pieces of hers and I remember every time I’d visit her home in Texas, I’d open it and go through it and all of the pictures she’d display inside. It’s the PERFECT piece to store my gardening/homesteading books, recipe tins, and cookbooks in.

The letterboard is one of my most used décor pieces because it’s so versatile. I use it for everything, every season, fun song lyrics, birthday messages, etc. I just livened it up with a fun pom and star garland. The trees I’ve had for about 9 years – the tray is always there with everything in it other than the mini wreath I wrapped around the candle. Remember my summer tablescape?

I love our tree. It’s slim because we are limited on space. It’s flocked but not too heavy on the snow. I have it inside a tree box -I’m not a fan of tree skirts. Our tree is mostly rustic/western accompanied by a hodgepodge of ornaments for the kids or handmade ones they’ve done for us. I love them. Each year we all get an ornament to add (sometimes more) and it’s fun to reflect on those memories each Christmas when we drag the holiday boxes out to decorate.

This year for example, we got a big foot for our family ornament for our yearly trips to Hochatown (what they are famous for), Paisley got a library ornament for our book worm, Scout sweet tea (enough said) Zack got a Smokey the Bear (always gets a fire related ornament) and I got a longhorn as we have really worked on growing our registered herd the last year. When the girls have families of their own, I plan to gift them some of their special ornaments to start their own trees.

The last thing I want to share is this super fun wrapping paper. Because I don’t go all out on decorating and rarely buy anything new at Christmas time to decorate with, I usually splurge on fun wrapping paper. If you’ve bought anything from my shop, you know packaging is a big deal to me. Presentation says a lot and truly makes a gift just a tad more magical. I enjoy giving a gift and taking the time to wrap it, add a pretty bow, gift tag, etc. I think when someone knows you took the time to be intentional with their gift is special. I’ve always done a print for each person in the family. This year, the girls got horses, Zack got the cowboy, and all other gifts get the fun rustic, green paper.

I really enjoy our home this time of year. We usually have Dolly + Kenny’s Christmas vinyl album on repeat, good meals on the table, and lots of friends and family over. There’s something about soft lights, a good drink, and watching Christmas movies.

Forgiveness School

Forgiveness School

This lesson of AOH (Aperture of the Heart-my photography class) was a big one for me. I wanted to share a few random thoughts on it because like all of the other lessons so far, I felt it needed to be documented. Maybe no one else will ever read these words, maybe my daughters will need them at a certain time in their life and I’m not here. But it was pretty profound and something was realized that’s taken over a decade to fully comprehend. Maybe you need it too.

“My outside self might mark me as a certain age, but my inside self isn’t defined by time. I’m every age I’ve ever been.”

All of a sudden after hearing those words, some of my feelings and emotions made sense. Some things you don’t “get over” or quit feeling because of time. They might still sting the same way they did when that event happened, no matter how you’ve matured or changed with age. That’s ok. Everything that has happened to you is yours and you get to tell it. Your version matters.

However, Earth is forgiveness school and it starts at the dinner table. Families are hard. Life is hard. As a deep feeler and one who is also a “fixer,” we can’t arrange peace or lasting improvement on the ones we love the most. They have to do it on their own. We have to release them. We all have baggage. We all have some sort of trauma. We are all screwed up and broken. But God. His grace is a healing balm, a spiritual ointment that soaks in and seeps out. It’s a mystery too. That He extends it to me and to you as well as everyone else that we think doesn’t deserve it. None of us do. But He gives it, so should we. If we don’t, what was His sacrifice on the cross worth? Everything.

That realization makes me retreat back into my shell and feel shame. That I’ve been given grace but it’s so hard to accept for myself and extend to others who have broken me. However, that shame is also a tactic from the enemy because he knows we’ve been bought with a price and that grace is freedom. Grace finds us where we are. It doesn’t leave us there either. It carries us forward and teaches us how to mend our hearts and use them as an extension, an olive branch to rebuild bridges that were once torched to ash. It’s a lesson I’ve known but am still learning. I’m learning to be me again and to also be free.

Welcoming Beauty

Welcoming Beauty

Another post for my AOH photography class. I wanted to use my blog to document some small portions of my journal as well as my photos. Today’s topic was “Welcoming Beauty as a Daily Practice.” One thing this course has taught me is that I don’t expect beauty in my everyday when in actuality, it’s always around me. My circumstances do not have to be ideal but can still behold wonder.

Horses have always been my safe haven, my escape. Something among my everyday. I think I was riding one as soon as I learned to walk. They are just a part of me. I grew up rodeoing and still enjoy my days on the back of one. They’ve always brought me a profound peace and sense of freedom I can’t describe-there’s nothing else in this world that can do that for me like a horse can. On hard days, I would run to the barn, open my horses stall door and bury my tears into his mane-throw the saddle on and disappear from what was going on for a few hours.  

When I became a mother, I set my passions aside. I didn’t fully quit, but felt the need to give it up because it was the responsible thing to do. I realize, I let go a piece of me too and that’s been a big realization for me as I’ve felt so lost these last few months. It’s ok to do things for yourself. It’s imperative we keep that joy.

I love this picture of a couple of ours in the pasture that I took. I love how the light highlights their mane and tails. I love how beautiful they are. How kind they are. How free they are. That’s how I want to live.

Aperture of the Heart

Aperture of the Heart

A few weeks ago, a close friend of mine shared a photography class on instagram. I soon recognized the photographer who had curated the course as the same one who recorded a video for them-sharing their child’s tragic accident that took his life. I knew this person was highly respected and valued because of the relationship with my friend and how she’s sat with her during this journey of healing. I knew this was something to consider.

So I did. I’ve always wanted to take a photography course and get to know my camera better, learning how to shoot my family from my view and what I see daily. But what I didn’t expect was that this course would revisit a lot of my own wounds, sadness, and insecurities. A deep dive into things I’ve carried for years. This course was on healing and using photography as a form of that. Capturing the beauty in our everyday, no matter the circumstance.

To be really transparent, if I would have known that, I probably would have kept scrolling. Not because I don’t think it’s absolutely wonderful, because it is, but because I’m good at suppression (or so I thought) and I’d rather upack feelings when they are bubbling over or not at all.

So here goes, I’ve paid for it and I’m showing up. The introduction alone hurt and I had a good cry so I can only imagine what the next six weeks will bring. This year has been about showing up for the hard, even when I don’t want to. As said friend mentioned, “you showed up physically for the #75hard, now it’s time for the inside work.”

I wanted to use this space to document here and there along the course as well as share my photos. I won’t be sharing every day but I’ve been getting really good at forgetting things unless I write them down. I often need to revisit points as well. Here are a few things just from getting started that I wanted to share as well as this short journal entry:

“I didn’t realize how much I needed this course or why I even signed up. I was in tears just in the introduction with how much I related to her words with the stage of life I’m in right now. Feelings of defeat and wondering if I’m worthy. I feel lost and stuck. Trauma suppression has made me realized I’ve never fully allowed myself to live my life. I’m always waiting on the other shoe to drop and have built such a fortress around my heart that I’ve missed out on a lot of precious time and being fully present in moments where I was just surviving. I have to see the joy in the everyday even if circumstances aren’t ideal. I can’t be the glue anymore because I’m barely holding myself together.”

How our brains make memories and how the art of paying attention can change everything. We live distracted, future focused lives…..worry has become a habit for so many of us (ME), our decisions often being made from a place of fear instead of faith. We have unconsciously wired our brains to be experts in the craft of worry. Our brains attract the bad and deflect the good.

Research shows, a negative experience takes only one second to imprint it’s memory on our brains, while a positive memory takes at least 15 seconds. If we aren’t actively present during the positive experience for that amount of time, we aren’t retaining the memories. The very act of slowing down, savoring a moment, and then revisiting it later helps solidify that memory into the brain. (enter photography) Intentional presence while letting the camera be a magnifying glass for grace. Our bodies store emotions. They can also be healed by positive ones.

I LOVE taking photos. Photos have always been so special to me. One of my favorite things to do is sit down and looking at family photo albums, especially those of my great grandparents. When we started our family, I told myself I’d work hard at getting photos of us to hand down too. I love documenting our life, not because I think it’s perfect, social media worthy or that I’m trying to show off and have something to prove. But because I truly love it. I find beauty in the mundane or the pretty room I worked so hard to put together as a safe space for our daughters to share. Some might see a beautiful tidy bedroom that’s never messy but when I look at it, I see our girls playing with horses all over the floor and I can hear their giggles in my head. I love seeing new life in a baby calf on the ranch or my daughter beaming with pride on her horse, even an outfit I wore on a day that I wasn’t feeling my best but it made me feel better because it was cute.

I think often we see others on social media and are quick to judge. Some just truly like to document and keep it as a scrapbook. We have no idea what’s going on beyond those squares or that 5 minute snapshot of their day. It’s just a moment, we can’t begin to know how hard it is to walk in their shoes. We cannot compare or assume we understand someone’s outsides or the small snippets they choose to show to the world to what’s really going on inside, or even to ourselves. We have to remember to be gracious.

So I’ll be saving posts from this 6 week journey in my Aperture of the Heart category. It’s already been pretty hard but also such blessing for me in starting to heal. The photo above was taken today, being fully immersed in watching my two enjoy their morning after homeschool, jumping on the trampoline and just being kids.

Farm Girl’s 7th Birthday Celebration

Farm Girl’s 7th Birthday Celebration

We had the most gorgeous day to celebrate 7 years of business at Farm Girl on September 10th. September 18th, 2014 was our actual first day open and since then, we have been throwing a party each year. This year was by far the best!

Several of my small business friends joined in on the fun. You can find their pages here:

We had handmade jewelry from Courtney, home grown flowers from Whitney, gorgeous bouquets from Shanna, and the cutest picnic spread for our VIP afterparty. I’m always blown away by the turnout and so grateful for the continued support from our shoppers near and far.

Scout sold cookies and Lexi sold handmade bracelets and rings from their lemonade stand. Paisley gave out polaroid pictures to guests from our photo booth.

And the cutest ladies rocking their Farm Girl tees.

After our full day of vendors, shopping, and sidewalk sale, we opened up our VIP afterparty by Firefly Hollowpicnics. Featuring my favorite movie, Sweet Home Alabama, popcorn + ice cream bar, charcuterie, and drinks.

It was such a great day and I’m looking forward to many more events like this as well as years in business. A big thank you to everyone that joined us and has supported my shop along the way.

75 Hard

75 Hard

I completed the #75hard challenge yesterday and it feels so good to say that. To know I started something tough and finished strong. This summer, I was in a funk and knew in my heart that I needed to lean into something that would challenge me in all areas of my life, especially mentally. This challenge isn’t about fitness although it has those aspects to it. But it’s all about training your brain, gaining grit, and saying yes to hard things because those are usually the most important.

I’ve noticed certain patterns in myself that I just wasn’t proud of and the main one being that others could count on me but I couldn’t. I would flake on myself time and time again. I had no mental clarity, was exhausted, and felt like I was at a complete standstill in my health/fitness journey. I was going through the motions of everyday life.

I shared my journey on Instagram and you can find all of my posts in my “Grit” and “75 Hard” highlights. I put a call for questions and had several of you all ask away. I’ve never had a response on anything I’ve shared like I have with this challenge so I felt like it was important to take the time to share it with those who were interested or wanted to know my experience.

I also want to make note because I know that everyone loves before and after photos. I don’t feel comfortable sharing my body unclothed with strangers on the internet but I think you can tell with clothes on. More importantly, I gained such a better mindset for myself. I didn’t lose a ton of weight but I did in inches and put on muscle. Again, this isn’t a magic program and the goal isn’t to look a certain way.

I’m going to share my video below and I’ll also just share a few of the most frequent questions I had underneath it. I know the video is lengthy BUT it has EVERYTHING in it. My workouts, diet, reading, motivation, support, etc.

Below are the most FAQs from Instagram, which again, are answered in full detail in my video above.

  1. What is 75 Hard? – It’s a mental toughness challenge that has several components you must complete each day. If you fail to complete them, you have to start all over from day 1. It’s like an ironman for your brain.

Components are:

  • Two 45 min workouts. They cannot be back-to-back and ONE of them MUST be outside.
  • Read 10 pages of a non fiction book.
  • Drink 1 gallon of water.
  • Follow a diet.
  • Take a progress picture each day.
  • No cheat meals or alcohol/soda/sweets

2. What “diet” did you follow? – I counted macros. I’ve done this on and off for two years and really enjoy it. I’m not a fad diet person. I think we all need proteins, carbs and fats to function. My Fitness Pal is my favorite app to help track.

3. What made you choose this method? – I wasn’t going into this for a fitness challenge because it isn’t that. I needed to rewire my brain and change my mindset. I totally recommend that you evaluate your “why” before you start.

4. Do you think you’ll continue the habits you’ve created? – ABSOLUTELY! I’m so thankful that I stuck it out and did this. I won’t be doing it 100%, but I will for sure continue to drink as much water as I can, only splurge on occasion, read everyday, and get at least one workout in.

5. Are you planning to go on to do Phase 1/Live Hard? -Yes! But we are about to enter my business season at the store and also have a couple of trips planned. I need a break from doing another challenge so I’ll probably do that one in the spring. Honestly, I’d love to do 75 Hard again next year and am going to try to get my hubby to join me.

6. How do you make time for workouts? – To be blunt because that’s how Andy is: you make time for what you want to make time for. If you truly want to do this, you’ll find a way. Sometimes it’s waking up at 4:30 am or finishing at 9 pm which I did often.

7. What books did you read? – I LOVED this aspect of the challenge because I’m naturally a reader anyway its just one of those things like many others that I would put off. I read more than 10 pages a day but here’s a few books I finished. The first was truly life changing and I blogged about it. I’ll link those.

I hope this helps anyone who’s interested in trying! It’s tough and not 75 Easy but I promise, you’ll be so thankful when you check off that day 75.

I want to say thank you all for the sweet encouragement. I’ve never done or taken the time to do anything like this for me and it was so needed.

Valley S Design Co

Valley S Design Co

I’m thrilled to share a small business I have purchased from in the past and then recently came upon on instagram again a few weeks ago! Valley S Design Co. made by turquoise hoop dreams come to life and was so sweet to send me a few goodies to review (and a code-see below) for you all!

This was the very first necklace I purchased from her “YEEHAW” and is one of my favorite pieces to wear. This comes in a set and it so cute and versatile!

These are hands down the most lightweight hoop earrings I’ve ever owned! I love that they are also a statement earring and can be paired with a cute outfit or jeans and a tee!

As a small business owner myself, you know how important it is for me that we support each other. Jennifer and I have a lot in common as farm and fire wives and we both raise longhorns! She is amazing at her craft and loves making jewelry people can wear everyday which is another reason why I’m drawn to her work.

She started making statement pieces that she found she personally would only wear at NFR and didn’t like that concept so she now focuses on the simple, everyday items.

You can shop her website here and she has been so gracious to offer the code: FARMGIRL for my readers to take 10% off your entire purchase!

Be sure to tag us both in your purchases!

Homemade Peach Cobbler

Homemade Peach Cobbler

My Grand pick up a box of fresh peaches for me last week and they were some of the best I’ve ever eaten. I decided to make my family some peach cobbler for a treat after supper (so sad I didn’t get any because I’m still doing 75 hard) but we did freeze some so I can make it again later.

You can make cobbler from canned of course but fresh is the best in my opinion. This from scratch recipe is super easy to do and comes out great!

Fun fact: peaches are probably my favorite thing to eat if I had to pick one. When I was pregnant with Paisley, all I ate were peaches and I’m surprised she didn’t come out smelling like one. HA! My great grandmother taught me how to can growing up and we canned a lot of things but our best prize always came from our peaches. We even one The State Fair of Oklahoma once and were featured in Country Woman magazine.

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 peaches peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 6 Tablespoons butter (I always use Kerry Gold but if I had fresh that would be even more glorious)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • ground cinnamon (extra because, cinnamon)

Instructions

  • Add the sliced peaches, sugar and salt to a saucepan on medium heat and stir to combine. 
  • Cook for just a few minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. This also brings out juices from the peaches. Remove from heat and set aside. 
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice butter into pieces and add to a 9×13 inch baking dish. Place the pan in the oven while it preheats, to allow the butter to melt. Once melted, remove the pan from the oven.
  • In a bowl mix together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.) Stir in the milk, just until combined. Pour the mixture into the pan, over the melted butter and smooth it into an even layer. 
  • Spoon the peaches and juice over the batter-I try to have them in an even layer so parts of the cobbler don’t have more peaches than another. Sprinkle cinnamon over the top. I like a lot so be generous!
  • Bake at 350 for around 40 minutes. I like ours a little crispy. Serve!

You can’t have cobbler without ice cream and one of our favorite hacks is getting the sleeves of the Bluebell mini cups to take to the hayfield. They are the perfect amount to go with a slice!