Loving The Skin You’re In

Let me be completely honest, I did not know that photoshopping women’s bodies was even possible until I was 17.

I fully believed that those girls in the magazines were real; their bodies, faces, and clothes. I believed that these women were perfect models, I didn’t know where these magazines found them, but I knew they had to exist for magazines to put them on spreads and in articles.

Ladies:

THIS IS A LIE.

I know now, that magazines, celebrities, and even “normal” people photoshop or reshape their bodies and faces everyday. That these body sizes, lip shapes, and perfect women do not exist.

“You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.”

I recently learned that other women have similar imperfections to myself. I learned that other women have stretch marks.

I had always thought that women get stretch marks from pregnancy until last year when I gained a bit of weight. I began getting stretch marks on my legs and hips; and I was completely mortified. I’m not talking about a little bit of embarrassment, but completely humiliated. I was so ashamed that I wouldn’t even wear shorts anymore. I felt that my struggle with my food choices was finally visible, and that I was the only one with these marks of shame.

Recently, I watched a video about women and their stretch marks. How each woman received them and how that made each woman feel. I loved seeing this because it brought me to a point of community and understanding about my body, and it’s imperfections.

Thank you for a whole year of Go Giving!

All the scars, stretch marks, and other markings you have are so important. They tell a story about the life you have lived, who you have become, and who you used to be. Your scars add depth to your first impression and should be celebrated, not create embarrassment. I know this is all easier said than done, but if us ladies can each work towards loving our scars and talking about them, maybe other women and girls wouldn’t feel the shame we have felt.

Maybe we can all start loving the skin we are in.

Much love. Much grace.

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A Beautiful Song

This song came on the radio this past week and I was reminded of many things.

I was reminded how the first time I ever heard this song was when I was 17 years old as a senior in high school. It was a hard year full of growth and pain, but this song was one of the things that encouraged me deeply. That first time I really listened to the lyrics it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time… I felt so alone and so unwanted. The lyrics of this song made me weep as I began to let them encourage me and realize what they meant.

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Just in case you haven’t heard it today: you are beautiful. You are so loved and so beautiful. Just know you are not alone in your struggles. Know that you are so desired and loved.

“Beautiful”

Days will come when you don’t have the strength
When all you hear is you’re not worth anything
Wondering if you ever could be loved
And if they truly saw your heart they’d see too muchYou’re beautiful
You’re beautiful
You are made for so much more than all of this
You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful
You are treasured, you are sacred, you are His
You’re beautiful

And praying that you have the heart to fight
Cause you are more than what is hurting you tonight
For all the lies you’ve held inside so long
And they are nothing in the shadow of the cross

You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful
You are made for so much more than all of this
You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful
You are treasured, you are sacred, you are His
You’re beautiful

Before you ever took a breath
Long before the world began
Of all the wonders He possessed
There was one more precious
Of all the earth and skies above
You’re the one He madly loves
Enough to die

You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful
In His eyes

You’re beautiful
You were meant for so much more than all of this
You’re beautiful
You are treasured, you are sacred, you are His
You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful
You’re meant for so much more than all of this
You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful
You are treasured, you are sacred, you are His

Much love. Much grace.
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How I Changed My Wardrobe

I posted  a few weeks ago that I have transitioned from bright colors and patterns to a minimalistic wardrobe of black, grays, and other neutrals. Like I said in the previous post, this transition was super easy, and even enjoyable, for me. I realize that for some people this may be stressful or difficult, so I decided to try to share my process and experience with you!

The very first thing I want to mention is that I did not go out an buy new clothes. You don’t have to BUY a new wardrobe to focus the colors you are wearing. People tend to have certain colors they buy more of, and that is the color to go with. No sweat! You don’t have to buy anything! 🙂

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The Color Choice

I chose black as my main neutral because that is a color I have loved for a while, but also because I had more black clothes than the other colors. With black being my main color, I decided to just keep all the other neutrals as well making my baseline for my new closet. I kept kaki pants, jeans, and a few accessories that were not neutral but could accent it easily. (Also, I kept all my workout outfits. I love getting these in color because I do yoga pretty often and have started going to the gym and needed all the workout clothes I had! Plus, it allows for some color-wearing time haha!)

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The Style Choice

Once my main color and base line were decided, I needed to focus on  what “look” I was going for. I knew I needed clothes for two categories: professional and everyday. For choosing my professional outfits this was pretty easy because I had already bought my clothes in neutrals so I just kept all of them. (I don’t have a crazy amount of professional clothes…oops!) My personal style is much more difficult. To be honest, my preferences of clothes varies day-by-day so I kept the pieces that I love no matter what. I kept some tan lace shirts, my leather jacket, and some band tee-shirts that sadly aren’t black, but I will definitely wear again. (and already have!) Obviously I had to keep a few colorful items out of necessity. BUT they are pieces that go with my neutral baseline and I am not allowing myself to buy anymore of these colorful accents until the others are worn too much to wear or need to be fixed.

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The Eliminating

After I did all that organization,  I decided to donate. We have a few local places that accept donations (like Goodwill ) which I used, but recently (when I did a second run-through of my closet) I decided to give to a great organization called Schoola . Schoola is AMAZING. Being an education major I am all about supporting local schools and giving to those kiddos. When you donate or purchase through Schoola, you get quality, gently-used clothes that when purchased donates a percentage of money to the school of YOUR CHOICE. That’s right folks, you choose what school gets your money! How cool is that?! They are even supporting the Malala Fund when you buy specific clothes as well!

 

 

I am sure none of these “tips” are all that surprising, and they really shouldn’t be. Changing out your entire closet can be intimidating and overwhelming, but it really doesn’t have to be.

Have you changed out your wardrobe? Are there things I could be doing to further help the process? Let me know!

Much love. Much grace.

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No Fear November

Fear is such a tricky and subtle thing. It can creep up in unexpected ways, like being scared of whales. Or it can develop over time coming from insecurities or traumas.

This past month I was asked to write as a guest blogger for a regional blog about marriage in my area. While I was so excited at first, I slowly began to become nervous and somewhat stressed. I began to become so stressed that I developed writer’s block.

I mean, how could I write about marriage when I have only been married for five months? I know nothing of trials and struggles that marriage can bring. People keep saying I am still in the “Honeymoon Stage”.

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As I began thinking of what to write about the more desperate I became. I would try writing whatever I could just to try to find an idea that stuck. I started and stopped about eight different times just trying to write one post.

As I said before in a previous post, writing was never my strong suit in school, and I began to remember the comments and even my grades as I would try to write this guest post. I was struggling.

Insecurities have a way of tearing us down.

Not quickly like outside or hurtful comments do. No, insecurities come from the inside. They come at us from our core and who we think we should be.

“I should be more graceful by now” “Why can’t I just stop eating Oreos?! That’s probably why I am so chubby” and on and on.

These little thoughts of negativity eventually bring us to a place of inhibited living or avoidance of certain activities, just like true fears do.

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This month is November, and in honor of Halloween being over, I am dedicating this month to overcoming my fears and insecurities. I will continue to write what is on my heart and I will begin conquering the insecurities that make me doubt myself.

Who’s with me? Let’s overcome our fears together this No Fear November. If you want to do this challenge with me, be sure to fill out the contact section on the blog and let me know!

Let’s see just who we can be without fears and insecurities weighing us down.

Much love. Much grace.

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Breathe a Little

You guys, nature is just so fascinating to me. The sky, the air, the trees, the grass… all of it.

When I was little, and my parents can definitely attest to this, I HATED to be outside. I think that is mostly because I was scared of two things: BUGS and SWEAT. Two things that are synonomous with being outdoors pretty much anywhere. However, now that I am older I have really learned how to love being away from the man-made and treating myself to the peaceful outdoors. I mostly just learned how to ignore the bugs and get used to sweating…. but still, peace is what I try to focus on while being outdoors.

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For our honeymoon, Mr. Yell and I went to the lovely city of Seattle, Washington… and it was just pure bliss. I had been craving a cooler climate for months, and he surprised me with the honeymoon that he planned (all by himself!) to the Pacific Northwest.

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Living in Louisiana for the past seven (already SEVEN??) years, I had almost forgotten how other climates feel. And while I have traveled during those  seven years, there is just something refreshing about visiting a cool place in the middle of a hot, southern summer.

Not only were we refreshed after all the wedding craziness, but we also experienced so many of the beautiful things that the PNW has to offer.

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Ruby Beach, Washington, USA

We experienced the salty, misty air of the Pacific ocean, and all of the tiny ecosystems it had to offer. There were tide pools and small little islands of trees and birds. This picture does not do it justice!

 

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Mr. Yell hugging one of the giant trees at the rainforest.

 

We went to the HOH rainforest and saw such deep green, old trees. They towered over us… some were about 300 feet tall. This one that Mr. Yell is trying to embrace was one of the medium sized ones.

 

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Mt. Rainer 1 mile hike

 

Mr. Yell and I even ventured to Mt. Rainer and hiked a short trail to a lookout of Mt. Rainer herself. In this picture, her summit is hidden by the clouds, but the air was the most pure I had experienced in quite a while. We even saw some hairy marmots playing!

Such beauty surrounded us at almost every turn. To say I was amazed is an understatement, but I was. Every single tiny detail in nature was completely thought out. From the food for the animals, the life cycle of the gigantic trees, even to the tiny tide pools by the ocean. Each ecosystem was beautifully and carefully taken care of.

Our God just cares so much. He planned all of these little details for the various natural habitats; yet he loves us more than all of these beautiful things combined. It is so hard to remember in times of need and stress, but it is so true. God cares for the animals and the plants, so why would He not care for us?

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Matthew 6: 26

Honestly.

We can even take this  a step further. Friends (men and women, alike) God created beautiful sunsets and flowers. He created beautiful, strong animals; and He gave them instincts the need to survive. He loves us more than these. He thinks we are more beautiful, stronger, and worth the sacrifice of His only son, Jesus. His love is not just about food and shelter, but confidence in who we are as His creations. We don’t bash glorious beaches or delicate wildflowers. We find wonder in them. So should we also find love and wonder in who God created us to be as well?

To hate on our bodies or our abilities is to throw impurities in the face of the creator who made it.

While there is a stigma, or an uneasiness in looking to nature for beauty and meaning, I don’t think we should forget about it entirely. God can use whatever and whoever He wants to teach us lessons. We just have to be open to seeing what that lesson may be.

So be encouraged, you are loved and beautiful and cared for.

Much love. Much grace.

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