Gold Thread : Looking Back Last Summer

Life lately has been a little extra emotional for this ball of emotions over here. This post is kind of proof of that, but it’s also proof of something a little greater I hope.

I had a facebook memory pop up today, it reminded me where I was this time last year. I was wearing the same orange and white striped shirt I’m wearing today, and I was on top of a mountain. It was perhaps the most beautiful mountain I had ever stood on. I remember feeling it, I still feel it- the most conflicting feeling of overwhelming beauty and intense pain . . .

For someone like me, I can step into pain and really feel it all. I’m made up mostly of emotions and I’ve come to find when I feel, I feel deep and strong. Emotions seldom brush by me, rather they twist around me like a blanket, I can become completely entwined in a feeling.

I can remember standing on that mountain, feeling naked. I felt like my comfort and my safety had been mockingly taken from my hands. I felt robbed. Just the same, I felt overwhelmed with the view I had in front of me. I felt joy in the cool breeze that danced through the warm sun rays on my skin. I felt God in the lush grass that seldom saw many footprints. I felt every bit frail and collapsed as I did held together by something bigger. In that moment, I think I really learned a great contradiction: beauty in pain.

The days to follow were some of the hardest with some of the worst news. Learning one the most valuable people in your life won’t stay with you for all your days on earth like your childlike mind had pretended…well I don’t have words for that feeling, just the feeling that remains with me. In those hard days last summer, life was never more painful, the moments had never been that valuable and just the same I had never experienced so much joy in such small places

 

I recently heard this quote from a woman named Ruthie Lindsey, “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain”. I don’t know why this is true, but it is. God met me in a hollow place and he showed me overflowing beauty. He showed me the overwhelming beauty of a smile, and it was only so beautiful because there would be days where I didn’t see one. I saw birds differently, I saw my family differently, I saw flowers and water and food differently.

 

Looking back at last summer, I see the golden thread woven throughout the most painful memories. A laugh in a hospital room became the very best thing I’d ever heard. Life isn’t all pain, and it’s definitely not all beauty, but I am thankful for a God who can use pain, who wastes nothing- who uses every piece of the pain for beauty.

 

 

 

If you’re walking through something right now & can’t see the beauty, that’s okay, just keep your eyes open and it will find you. And if you need some encouragement in your inbox, send me an email & I’d love to send you some words that might bring some light or hope to your life right now.

with love

 

The Word of our 20’s

As a kid/teenager, I never really realized how much of my life was mapped out for me. I didn’t realize there would come a time where me and my friends had to choose our own paths and make decisions only we could make. Coming to college and into adulthood has introduced a new word to my life: should. It’s my least favorite word. It is often full of anxiety and shame and all the wrong reasons. I use this word when I feel in adequate or confused- when I’m comparing my path to those of the people around me. Becoming an adult has meant making my own decisions, living my own life and having to accept the fact that my everyday will look different than those to the left and right of me.

I chronically suffer with doubting I’m doing it right. If I see success or goodness on someone else’s path, I often think I must need that to find my own success as well- completely ignoring God’s own unique plan for just me, and believing there is simply one or two ‘right’ ways. In my doubt I begin to think..

“I should do more”

“I should clean my house more”

“Why am I not doing that too?”

“I should I should I should”

Maybe the word makes you cringe like it does for me too. Whenever I hear a friend utter that word, more often than not I tell them, “should is a bad word”. I looked up the definition of this word I’m writing about, and it only reinforces what I’ve found to be true in my own life:

should
verb
  1. used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions

I wonder why we often let obligation and “correctness” be our guide– shaming us into inadequacy. It is truly a word of comparison. So instead of nagging myself with “I should really go to the gym” I want to reframe my thoughts to be more loving and gentle:  “I want to go to the gym to take care of the body I have been given”.

In creativity there is no room for this shaming comparison, yet I often find myself thinking “I should practice more so I can make work like that”. Instead, the thing that will truly bring me into my own best work is working from a place of rest, knowing I don’t need to catch up, or be the same. We each have our own paths, our own best next step forward. ‘Should’ simply has no place as we navigate our own unique and completely personally-written paths.

Thanks for reading this, I hope some of it made sense and you step back and think the next time you hear should come into the conversation.

Two Months into Graphic Design School

I’m so proud of that cliff hanger title…definitely too proud, because there’s nothing too earth-shattering here, more just a life update. Two months into Graphic Design school and I love it. It’s hard, my classes are all 3 hours long and sometimes I spend an hour long class attempting to perfectly draw one letter, but I love it. (side note: you may find some new changes in my site/my portfolio)

 

Deciding to change tracks from studying photography to studying graphic design was a big deal for me. It wasn’t simply changing my college major, no, not for this ball of emotions and heavy heavy feelings- this was an existential decision- a move away from something I’d been chasing for 6 years and a step into the unknown…I know, welcome to my brain.

I feel SO much peace about this change of creative focus and SO much joy that I took the risk to apply to a program I felt way unqualified to step into. And now here I am, calling myself a graphic designer. And I truly truly love it. It combines all my passions in one study- photography, illustration, writing, design, and typography.

 

Now here’s a little list about the unique traits of being in art/design school :

  • those lovely previously mentioned, 3 hours studio classes
  • hours of work outside the studio (daily)
  • an expectation to invest your whole mind and heart into your classwork, simply doing the bare minimum isn’t good enough…for your professors or for your own personal convictions
  • a community of people who you commiserate with, work through pieces with, eat with, laugh with and maybe even cry with (it’s not as uncommon as you may think) (or maybe I’m just too emotional)
  • being driven by making work you’re proud of instead of just making an A in a class
  • you know most people are there for a purpose deeper than just getting a degree so they can get a job

 

I wanted to write this post because I am trying to be better about blogging/writing in general. I’ve started seeing it as a way to archive thoughts and stories along my way, something to look back on, and also just a way for my mom to keep tabs on me…

with love,

Emily

June 7- June 14

Here are some photos from our first week in Austria. Please enjoy these photos, I’ve been so overwhelmed by the beauty and peace of nature lately. While these photos may capture some real beauty, we’re walking through a valley in life right now. The days are hard and these are photos of the good times, we are holding tight to the good times. I’m learning how important it is to enjoy rest and joy amidst trial and heart ache. God is meeting me right where I am right now. He is literally leading me to green pastures and still waters.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake

PSALM 23:1-3

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Jägersee: we walked the loop around the lake and had dinner. When we walked up to the lake, it was so quiet and there were literal SWANS on the water, it felt like paradise. Perfection doesn’t exist on this planet but God is good to show us glimmers of Heaven.emilylouise-1286emilylouise-1291emilylouise-1300emily louise livingston 2emilylouise-1310

One more stop on our way to Oberndorf- Rossbrand Mountain, my mom said it’s possibly the best view of Austria she’s ever seen. It’s kind of wild how quiet it is when you’re so high on a mountain. We enjoyed the sunshine and sat in the grass while equally knowing this is what the calm before the storm feels like. God is with me on the mountaintop and in the valley.

Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

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Mountain cows are the best cows.

My family at my uncle’s 60th birthday party, missing dad and Grace.

The oldest coffee house in Salzburg – where Mozart took his coffee.

Life is hard and beautiful and God is with us and He is good.

California Trip 2017

In March my sister, mom and I got to spend a few days traveling around California. My favorite moments in California are always always driving along the coast. It was a simple trip, we stayed with friends, we drove around, mom told us about the glory days of how she rode her bike to her University and how she worked a full time job and yada yada (honestly my mom was such a badass and I love her California stories).

I took as many photos as I could until my mom and grace were rolling their eyes at me (my general photo parameters when photographing my loved ones).

California, I love your humidity, your flora, your sunshine and your coastlines.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Austria – December 2015

This is my home and my heart. It is constant and seems to be unchanging. It was an amazing trip, and it was so cool to be able to bring Matthew along with us and show us a piece of who we all are.

Home is where I was born

Home is where I’ve only been once

Home is where I go every summer

and once every 2 years

Home is where my bed is

Home is where my bed isn’t

Home is where I will never stop returning to

Home is a delicate, aged pair of hands holding mine

Home isn’t one place or even two

Home is the places I leave pieces of myself

Like breadcrumbs

I’ll find myself coming back home

Home is sometimes a plane ride away

Home can be out a door

Home is here

Home is way over there too

Home is that worn out cliche

Home is where my heart is