Threw together some of my video footage from my trip to Iceland to make this video for you all! If you're interested in Iceland or planning a trip, check out this post for photography and details about what I did!
Part I: Reykjavik (The Most Northern Capital On the Planet)
Part II: Scenic Adventures (Waterfalls, Cliffs, Glaciers)
Part III: The Euro Cup + Insta Pics
The pony riding company I went through: Viking Horses
I love Halloween. And ever since I was little, I have chosen to dress up as women and characters I admire. I have 3 Halloween parties to go to this year, and I'm going as Audrey Hepburns' Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Most dress up as her in the opening scene, peering into Tiffany's with a scone in her hand. Always trying to be original, I opted for her apartment scene, right before she meets her love interest Paul "Fred" Varkjak (George Peppard).
Donning her Tiffany's blue sleep mask and trying to sleep off the party she threw the night before, Paul buzzes her apartment in attempts to get to his new place in the building. Her orange cat named Cat paws at her to awake, and finally she arises and dresses in the closest thing she can reach for: a men's formal white button down. Holly meets Paul at her door, slowly realizing her purple fringe ear plugs are in her ears as he asks her four times if he could use her phone. The phone is then found her suitcase as she tells him, "I'm crazy about Tiffany's."
I did a cute little shoot with Naomi Lynn Photography in my own apartment to capture this year's costume. All the details for my costume are below for you to either pull together last minute or plan for next year! It was SO easy for me and so much fun to collect these iconic pieces. (THB: I've been using the sleep mask every night since I got it in the mail.) Have a happy Halloween, friends! Xo
Holly Golightly Sleep Mask - SvetlanaCO's Etsy shop
Holly Golightly Ear Plugs - TarnishedPast's Etsy shop
Men's White Button Down, L - H&M
(I also wore some white denim shorts under mine, just to be safe. (; )
Last week, a couple of my girlfriends and I jumped on planes to visit our fellow-college-roommate in Chicago where she is living while working on her Masters. We ate, drank, shopped, took photos, and were constantly in awe that we were far along enough in life where we could visit our college roommates in a pretty city like Chicago. It was such a gift, and I'm thankful 2016 delivered such an incredible one so early on in the year. I got tons of pretty pictures and some random thoughts for recent/almost college grads out there:
// ONE //
Whatever you're feeling right now - incredible fear, incredible rage, incredible loss, incredible joy, incredible contentment, incredible boredom, incredible confusion, incredible lack of fulfillment - it will fade away. Even though it is consuming your heart and lensing your vision and you can't believe it ever will, I promise it will fade away. You'll stop caring about the things you're enraged about, and you'll stop feeling that happy jump in your step so effortlessly. I don't know why it works that way, I guess it's a life thing; I've learned to trust the process. I started my post-undergrad life feeling the first three of that list above; and I don't fully know why or how (other than my concentrated efforts), but those feelings have faded into smooth, cleansing waters. The happy (unfortunately) and the hard (thank, God), it will fade. So soak up all the nutrients that whatever the currently feeling has to offer, really feel it; but do so with the intention of moving looking forward. Then whenever the next feeling comes you will be ready to face and learn and grow there.
I wrote this post in August about feeling like a plant underground, yet to be grown. What I feel now is much more acccute to a sprout; above the ground, sometimes wondering why I don't have abounding leaves and pedals like the plants taller than me, but often I'm `pretty freaking proud of my stem and of my green hue and of how far I've grown in such a small time. Like I said, I don't know why or how it happened, just that I chose to be intentional about who I was and what I did in that season.
// TWO //
You are so, completely not alone. What you're feeling, there are others (far more and far closer to you in proximity than you think) who have those same feelings beating in their chests. It's easy to be impersonal and lack vulnerability in this world. Sharing your heart, your true heart with wisdom and discernment, is the only way to discover that you are not alone. Just share little, honest, authentic pieces at a time. Sometimes people won't relate (or at least don't act like it). But most of the time that little, honest, authentic part of your heart will bring comfort and healing to other confused souls, and then in turn to your own.
// THREE //
I believe that believing you'll survive is what makes you survive. It's a scary thing to chose to believe, because what if you're wrong? But without it, without believing you will survive the pain at present, there is absolutely no chance that you will. It takes bravery, so much bravery. But I believe that believing you will survive is what makes you survive.
// FOUR //
The past's pain and the future's unknown are such small matters compared to what lies within us. Our strength to keep ourselves alive in every season, our ability to plant hope and healing in another's soul, our heart's emotional-cell-regeneration to make us feel like new again, our power to chose kindness when everything around us is screaming, "harden, harden, harden!" - it is miraculous what lies inside of us. And when we bring those miraculous things that are inside of us out into the world, it chases darkness away a little big more - for yourselves and others around you.
Let's talk DESKS! Call it an office, call it a space -- I call it an atmosphere. I am all about creating atmospheres. That's why I love music and brands so much. They create feelings, vibes and thoughts. So I did that with where I work and create! Below are some key elements (which all go deeper and are more meaningful than "desk lamp") that I value in my working atmosphere. Plus my adorable pup, Ember, will pop in and out along the way. This will be fun:
::: A Reminder of Who You Are :::
I found these little prints at Target and they each spoke to me in sweet, quiet ways. I chose the bicycle print in representation of my Dutch heritage, citizenship and my father's side of my family. I chose the antler print, for similar reasons, because antlers remind me of my grandpa and my mom's side of the family from Michigan. The Netherlands and Michigan are both my original homes and make up who I am: my physical appearance, my mannerisms, my sense of humor -- literally, my DNA. Plus, they're gold so that was a no-brainer.
::: A Reminder of Where You are Bettering Yourself :::
The third print, reading "be you," is a special one to me. I moved here to Lakeland with the personal goal to learn how to love others and to learn how to love myself more. Self-love is something I really enjoy dwelling on and talking with others about. But it's something I am learning in new ways everyday. So I have a sweet little card here to remind me.
::: Some Encouragement :::
My really cool brother was in China for half of the summer, and he brought me back this piece of art. Not only are the colors beautiful with blush, teal and gold accents, but he told me that this piece depicts the Autumn season, a season of harvest where all of the hard work is reaped and celebrated. And my brother said, "That's you," because I'm an adult now, graduated from college with my undergrad and I'm celebrating this new season of life. He acts cool, but he's really sweet. (; So I keep it here to be reminded and encouraged multiple times throughout the day.
::: A Living Friend :::
After reading The Lord of the Rings all summer, the hobbits' romance for everything green has rubbed off on me. I have plants all over my apartment. Not only are they beautiful and bring a little bit of the outside in, they bring life in its purest form into your working atmosphere. It's a win/win.
::: A Reminder of WHY You Do What You Do :::
As co-founder and chief creative officer of Trades of Hope, I have the honor of partnering with women all around the world who are empowering themselves out of poverty. I love my job so much. I love the purpose, the creativity, the women I work with -- but sometimes it can be easy to lose focus. So I have this beautiful gold and cream globe from World Market to remind myself why I do what I do, to remind myself of those women I am so proud to partner with!
::: Light Source :::
I'm a believer in rest, so I don't advise working at night. However, if your creativity is overwhelming you or if you're on a roll with your project or if you're just a night owl -- don't let you work flow be stifled because it's getting dark. Have something there to mindlessly and quickly switch on so that you can continue with your art. I got this spherical, little gold number from Target and it was on sale. So it actually chose me.
::: A Reminder of Where You've Been :::
Initially, this can be viewed as a negative thing. But! It can actually be one of the most powerful pieces of your working atmosphere. See that beautiful pink card? My incredibly lovely friend Katy surprised me with that Lily Pulitzer card with a sincere, genuine love note inside and it is one of my most treasured gifts. However, Katy gave that meaningful gesture to a girl who is not the same girl I am today. When I see that card, I am reminded of my sweet friend, but also that I am so proud of who I have become because I have worked so hard to become that woman. And in turn, that makes me excited to propel myself forward and mold myself even more.
::: A Piece of Personalization :::
Obviously I know my name starts with an E. I don't need the mug there to remember that. E is my favorite: it is the initial of my favorite English Queen, it's my favorite key to sing in, it's a solid letter if you ask me. But it's sweet presence gently reinforces the idea that this is my space, MY space to work and create and love and impact others -- free of shame or scorn or judgement. Plus, it holds my TomBow brush pens adorably.
::: A Comfy Chair :::
As Ember is so adorably exhibiting, it's important to have a seating arrangement that can be used comfortably for the long term. And I love being cozy so I through blankets on it, too!
No matter what your style or your budget (I got 80% of this at Target!) these atmospheric elements can make your home office a haven. If you have any tips or want to share your own working atmosphere, throw it in the comments! I would love to connect with you and learn from your creative soul.
My driver's name was Nayo.
He seemed really polite, asked lots of questions about my family and made me feel really comfortable being in that red Toyota Corolla alone together as he brought me to the airport. But that's your job, isn't it, Nayo? To make sure I feel really comfortable and unsuspecting... I see right through you.
Nayo gets another phone call and answers, too mumbly and too Spanish for me to comprehend. That's the fourth call in thirty minutes, Nayo. I see right through you.
That's when I am once again thankful that I kept my sweater on my lap in the front seat with me. I did that intentionally, you see, just in case I need to use it fashioned as a protective glove when I punch a window open. In that moment, I'm also once again thankful I'm wearing my glasses just in case I need to break them and use the pieces to pick a lock or as a sharp weapon. And as I'm memorizing significant landmarks along our journey in case I need to give someone emergency directions to where I am being held captive, I'm thankful that I saw Taken 2 (even though it freaked me out at the time) -- because now I'm a pro at this. You should have blind-folded me, Nayo. This is way too easy. At least make it a challenge.
Unfortunately, (and by "unfortunately" I mean "fortunately") I didn't have to use any of my international kidnapping survival "expertise". Nayo brought me to the airport safely and was very sweet when I gave him the lamest tip ever because I barely had any cash. I felt bad then, as I walked into the airport to check my bag, assuming so poorly of kind Nayo. The guilt soon was displaced by an uncontainable mental laughing at myself for being so silly. It set the tone for an overall silly day of traveling as I left Guatemala. But this was a big day, a day signifying the end of my Guatemalan season. And while it was a good thing, I was feeling so much and, well, sometimes if you don't laugh you cry.
I didn't need to cry, though. Even though I was missing the Doese family like crazy, I was feeling weirdly, sillily good. I threw my luggage to the lady behind the check-in desk, spun around, whipped my carry-on and guitar over my shoulder and sang (very powerfully but still to myself), "This girl is on fire!!!!!!!!!! This girl is on fiiiIIIIIiiiiire!!!" Reflecting on my 5 weeks in Guatemala, I had never felt like myself less and had never felt like myself more.
When you're in a place completely different than the world you're accustomed to, you find out a lot about who you are. When you don't have your comfy bed, don't have a fully functioning toilet, and haven't had a hot shower in four weeks, you can figure a lot of stuff out. You realize that comfort is a luxury and something one creates, but not something to be pursued and certainly not something for which anything should be sacrificed. You begin to fully appreciate people and relationships, even the light, on-the-surface-I-probably-will-never-see-you-again-but-I-hope-I-do relationships. You realize that you're actually a pretty maternal woman and you're really excited about all of the little and big ways life has and will completely enamor you.
I've said it before:
I think the most significant reason why you go away and travel, is so that you can come back.
Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.
While I was in Guatemala, I told friend after friend, "I know this is exactly where God wants me." But now that I'm back in the States, I feel new wave after crashing wave of why it was so precisely perfect for me to live in Guatemala for 5 weeks. Perfect is a word we throw around a lot, but rarely ever truly experience, but it's a Heavenly experience when we do.
In Eat, Pray, Love Elizabeth Gilbert says this, "I've come to believe that there exists in the universe something I call 'The Physics of The Quest' — a force of nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity or momentum. And the rule of Quest Physics maybe goes like this: If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself... then truth will not be withheld from you. Or so I've come to believe."
I've come to believe so, too.
The tortillas are hot and the guacamole radiates lime and onion as everyone at the table (in at least four different languages: English, Spanish, Dutch or Portuguese) inquires and answers about the day’s recent unfolding. I look around at these people sitting around one table. A family of five hearts I have come to love as if I’ve known them my whole life. A girl a little older than me who is from my home country, the Netherlands, with the accent and poise to match. A married couple from South America who met in the Netherlands and abandoned anything resembling a home to now traveling the world together. I look at these people, who only two weeks ago a few were strangers to me, and I can’t imagine my life not having spent this time with them. We didn’t really go through a lot together. No, for the most part, we truly only shared meals three times a day. All the same, after celebrating Diana’s 30th birthday with cakes and songs, after quietly drinking coffee early in the morning with swollen eyes, after sharing the same dysfunctional toilet, and after making this random household in Antigua our home – it saddens me to leave this place in two days to continue adventuring in Guatemala.
The coast is calling and beckoning me to make a home there for the next few weeks. And while I am truly excited for the unknown, I think of Telma – who runs this household, not only taking care of her own large family, but then spoiling us houseguests as only a grandma-figure can. And I pray, pray, pray that through my growing Spanish that she understands how thankful I am for her, for the time she’s worked in the kitchen to prepare expectation-exceeding Guatemalan meals everyday, for her kind conversation, for her smile, for her heart. I think of this house of clay, tile, and corrugated steal roof panels – how distant it felt walking in for the first time, and now how much I’ll miss my bed’s corner, I’ll miss playing my guitar on the roof, I’ll miss hearing the rain dance carelessly on the tin outside. Home.
For the first time in my entire life, I do not crave comfort or security. They are simply not things I desire or want for my life during this season. After eradicating every idea I had of who I was and what I wanted, God is showing me how this girl – originally a homebody, a planner, a comfort-seeker – can truly make a home wherever He leads her. And it’s so freeing. To think I am excited to go to this new home on the coast, of which I know nothing about – a month ago that would be truly inconceivable. Preconceived notions are not promises or definitions or destinations. They are chapters, only a part of the story. A great, grand, beautiful story that far surpasses anything scribbled in a book, anything desired in a heart. And I come back to this over and over again: it is all grace, it is all His generosity. His pure generosity – I will never know the depths of it. That He should honor me so much to pull me into the light and dance with me. That He should bend to reach for me – through the stench and the clouding of my sin, He does not hesitate – and lift me from despair and into unquenchable joy. There is so much joy, I can hardly think and it massacres my grammar, but I don’t care because it’s joy.
Please know, this great, grand, story is for you, too. The pain, hopelessness or sadness you feel are irrelevant, not even factors, not even indicators of your future. There is always more light, more love, more hope and peace. Let today be the last day you allow something that keeps you from the beautiful life He is dreaming for you. Do not hold onto that struggle, that distraction, that him, that her, or that fear out of a desire to avoid depression or anxiety. If you have to experience insecurity or loneliness for a while to reach that beautiful life – so be it. Don’t be afraid of it.
“I think you deserve something beautiful,” He whispers, “let’s make room for the new.”
Open up your life so that your future can be filled with surprises yet to come.
I cried on the eve of my 5th birthday. Balled, actually. I was told upon turning five one is expected to go to school all day and carry more responsibility. That was all so very vague to me; therefore, I was terrified of turning five and cried in my mom’s arms. Needless to say, if I can go from being paralyzed by the unknown (as I have cried about it once or twice in the last 15 years) to excitingly making room for the new – everyone can.
Except for maybe Ireland, I’ve never taken to a new place as quickly as I have to Antigua: the ruins, the colors, the coffee shops, the markets, the hospitality and the garden courtyards. This is a new ability for me – to embrace and absorb and thrive off of that. It’s been fun and good, truly good – but this free woman’s heart is happily beating for the new, the unknown adventure ahead. Who would have thought? (;
Some more Instagram snapshots:
It's been a little over a week since I've arrived in Guatemala. My first five days here were spent with the Trades of Hope Vision Team -- a seriously beautiful group of women who are so invested in seeing lives change through job creation. We had the incredible privilege of visiting our Trades of Hope artisans here (which I’ll share more on later). Being around their hearts, their stories, their support was such a blessing and balm to my soul. I remember sitting in MonoLoco (a sports bar themed restaurant where a cartoon “loco” monkey is painted on every wall), thinking to myself, “Am I really here? At this table, with the most glorious nachos in front of me, the most inspiring women around me, and all of the sounds and smells of Guatemala enveloping me?”
Guatemala has the same beauty I anticipate Heaven will also have. There are courtyards and pockets of secret gardens everywhere. And from every flourishing garden, there are views of mountains and volcanoes surrounding. Also at every turn are fallen ruins, silently telling stories of history and destruction, but also of hope. Since being here, I have made chocolate from cocoa beans, taken salsa dancing classes, climbed mountains into the clouds, sipped wine while walking through an organic farm, and spent a lot of time working on my Spanish.
I'm really all about long-term travel now. (Not to say I would turn down a 5-7 day trip to, well, anywhere, but that’s not the point.) Already, I feel like an Antigua local. I'm staying in a sweet, old woman's home where I eat delicious (sometimes wonderfully questionable) authentic Guatemalan food three times a day. I step out of the front door onto a 10-inch sidewalk, right next to a tiny convenience store (which we tenderly call the snack shack). There are always these dudes standing in front of the snack shack, whose gross stares, which lack subtly, I always pretend to be too oblivious to notice. But the fact I see them daily makes me feel like Antigua is home. In the States, walking to my front door or drinking coffee on my couch would give such a warm feeling, but this will do.
Like any local, I know the shop that sells the strawberry and Nutella crepes, and I know where to get the coffee and bacon flavored ice cream. I also know the ”exotic ice cream” shop owner’s story and that he just got the proofs for his eleventh book back today. These places are holes in the wall, but then again, everything in Antigua outside of Central Park is a hole in the wall. I like it that way. You have to try hard to find all of the amazing things Antigua has to offer. Perhaps I like it so much because maybe that means someday someone will take the time to find out all the things I have to offer, and somehow think that's pretty cool, too. Or perhaps I just really like strawberry and Nutella crepes.
I see people I know while walking down the streets already. Some of them attend the Spanish school (even though I've really only had in-depth conversations with the lady who mans the snack booth -- Pringles: the red can or green can?). Some of them are people who work in the markets. Some of them are people who regularly beg on the street. Either way, a familiar face is a familiar face, and that does allow some home-y feelings (which is probably more appropriate that the despicable guys outside the snack shack).
In addition to the sweet old woman, her family, and the family I am here with in Guatemala, some very sweet souls are staying in the house. I befriended two girls who are 20 as well. They remind me that I, too, am still a 20-year-old girl (despite the fact I feel 40). And I fantasize about going back with them to their lives of dorms and classes at NC State in August. I long for the securing arms that college seem to wrap around girls my age. SEU kicked me out after handing me my diploma, but maybe NC State will embrace me? I coo to that part of me that longs for comfort, "Sure, Liz, you can go back with them," as if I'm telling a child, “Yes, of course Santa Claus is real.”
Also living with us is a man form Brazil who lived in the Netherlands for five years. We talk in Dutch and reminisce about all of the Dutch foods until we can no longer stand the hunger for them. We talk geography, we talk customs, and again, there it is: that home-y warmth.
My days mainly consist of playing with three of the most creative and considerate little kids I know in the morning and exploring the country in the afternoons. And I feel so blessed. I am so thankful. For this place, for its beauty, for what I'm learning. I'm realizing my biggest fear was my life not turning out the way I had always planned: making lots of money, being married in my early twenties, feeling secure. The reality of my life now is more acute to: spending all my life's saving on traveling the world's cultures alone, being single alone, feeling anything but secure alone. And it's good. I'm realizing I was only afraid of these things because I didn't plan them, and that's no reason to be afraid. It's okay to take the time to feel alone, to feel like you're floating, to feel desires unfulfilled. Don't ignore those feelings, don't let them give you anxiety. For once I'm choosing to sit with them. Make a map of them. Welcome to the human experience in its entirety.
Why do you go away? So that you can come back.
So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. So you can see there actually is beauty here, similar to the beauty you found on your adventure. It does not wither away when you fail to recognize it as such, you're not big enough. So that you can see there actually is purpose here. So you can see and feel that the things you thought had a hold on you, the things you thought were weighing you down, can't touch you and it was your power you were giving those things all along. So you can see that you can stop striving; you don't have to be the one to carry that big thing, you're a small piece, significant but small, in something so much wonderfully bigger than yourself.
And the people there see you differently, too. They see, just as you learned to love whatever far off skies you were under, you have the capacity to encourage their wandering hearts, too. They see that it is your spirit that is free, and it's your feet that follow -- not the other way around.
Hopefully, the farther you venture down that road, the closer you grow together. When you're moving faster than how swiftly life can throw "life circumstances", you realize the things that sometimes brew tension can't even touch you. You realize that the things that you caught yourself sillily complaining about are things that sparked your love in the beginning days. And as you see new places and grow closer, you bask in the reality that of all the places in the world you two could be, you're together in the same place, in a new place, in a sacred place.
Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.
A seven day road trip across three states was a big deal for this college senior who has been grounded for so long. Safe for a business trip to Haiti, the 68 acre university campus has been my stomping grounds for the last two years. This wanderer since birth needed an adventure (she was getting a little grumpy).
The trip was exactly what my soul needed. We packed our bags, took our places in the car, and ventured north on the I-95. The week was full of time together on the road, time with our families, listening to new worship albums, exploring what downtown Raleigh had to offer us (taking advantage mostly of Videri chocolate over and over), sitting on the porch of Donnie's pretty southern yellow home, more time on the road, a lot of Netflix when Donnie was sick, a lot of yummy food at all times, and more time on the road.
After this really, overly relaxed wandering week, my soul has never been so awake.
Here are some photos from our week: