Giving Light – Tegan P.

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Hey, I’m Tegan! Caffeine addict, dark chocolate lover, and outdoor adventurer. I’m a Colorado native who left and immediately regretted it, but still took six years to explore other wonderful places before I came back home. You can find me on Instagram @teganmarisa for photos of my Senegalese mutt, Helen, and as many mountains as I can reach in my spare time. And, without further ado, a few things that bring a smile to my face these days:

 

1. My people 
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I’m lucky to have friends on almost every continent, and two families (one adopted) in two different countries. The relationships that I have with these people keep me slogging through the day-to-day, and I’m so grateful to have so many people to play, work, cry, and laugh with.
2. My cooking 
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A messy kitchen begs to be cleaned, and a clean kitchen begs to be cooked in – it’s a vicious cycle. But when everything else is overwhelming, chopping veggies, kneading dough, or mixing brownie batter is one of my favorite ways to give myself space to think and breathe. It’s a quick respite from the rest of the world.
3. My dog 
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Who wouldn’t love that face? And she snuggles like a champ. ‘Nuff said.
4. My morning commute 
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I know – what?? But seriously. This time of year, I’m driving west right as the sun rises above the horizon and lights up the mountains. And it’s amazing – first light on Long’s Peak is a reason to wake up in the morning. Which leads me to…
5. My job 
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All jobs have their frustrations, but I get to spend 40 hours every week helping people connect with their National Parks. What could be more rewarding than engaging the next generation of public land stewards and helping people find a sense of place and connection to our natural, cultural, and historic landmarks? With everything else going on in the world, it’s more important than ever that people have safe places to confront the uncomfortable, have the difficult discussions, explore things they’ve never experienced, and find healing. And I get to be part of that. #unironicallyblessed

If you are interested in giving your own light, click here to learn more about how you can enter the Give Light Giveaway.

Giving Light – Madeline H.

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Follow Madeline’s Blog Here                                              Find her on Instagram Here

First off, hello! I’m Madeline and it’s nice to ‘meet’ you. I have a Colorado soul but live in Atlanta, Georgia where I’m exploring the urban corners of the city, as well as escaping to the North Georgia Mountains. I enjoy baking, doing Crossfit, reflecting and writing for my personal blog, and spending time with the people I love the most. These are the things that fill me up. These are the things that leave me feeling grateful and these are the things that bring beauty into my days. I lead a busy life so I need to always intentionally run after beauty and grace.

Without further ado, here are the five things I currently find beautiful in my life —-

1. The Japanese maple standing in my front yard.

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Yes, it’s December. Yes, the trees are FINALLY changing in Atlanta and the tree in my front yard was on fire this week. Every time I walked out the front door my breath caught in my chest as I gazed upon this beauty.

2. The MARTA bus drivers that recognize me on my daily commute.

I ride the bus to work every day and I can count on one hand how many different drivers I have had. Greg is a driver I have in the morning who actually knows my name. He makes me feel known and less invisible in this world.

3. The Buffs playing in the PAC12 championship.

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All I have to say is — the rise is real y’all. I’m so proud to be a buff.

4. My fantastic job.

I know this sounds cheesy, but really my job is awesome. I feel so undeserving of the number of opportunities I have afforded while working in this lab. As I type this I am on a break between sessions at the American Society of Hematology conference in San Diego. There are over 27,000 attendees – mostly physicians and PhDs – and I feel so lucky to be one of them. I am humbled by the sheer number of people gathered in one place that are passionate about hematologic diseases and I just want to soak it all in. My lowly bachelors degree and I do not belong in this place, but my boss believes in me, and my professional development, so here I am.

5. Going home for Christmas!

I opted out of traveling for Thanksgiving and I missed my family dearly. It’s hard to describe a Huey holiday, but it’s one worth experiencing if you can. I can’t wait to spend Christmas with my Mom, Dad, sisters Anna and Leah, and my brother Garrett. I’m excited to see snow capped mountains and to breath the crisp, dry air. I’m excited for the wrapping paper war on Christmas day and the time spent catching up with friends over drinks. There have been so many wonderful things about moving to Atlanta with one of the best being able to come home.

If you are interested in giving your own light, click here to learn more about how you can enter the Give Light Giveaway.

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

I went to church this morning. For the second time since my dad died.

I found it to be very comforting – reassuring to be with other people who are seeking God and seeking good and looking forward to new birth.

For some reason or other, this year I am very drawn to the concept of Advent. The preparation of the coming of Christ – and in the form of a baby no less. How humble beginnings lead to big things. How Angels surround us in our night. How stars can guide us to the King. I went seeking a story and connection to the season.

The speaker preached on something different altogether this morning, and I was a little disappointed.

However, as I sat in my folding chair, and listened to the Christmas hymns, it hit me for the first time, just how powerful the wish for “Good Tidings of Comfort and Joy” can be.

This year I need comfort and joy. While the holidays can be challenging after the loss of a loved one, they are also turning out to be a great source of comfort and joy for me and my family. Even if there are tears involved.

So tonight, I share some comfort and joy that I have experienced in these early days of December and wish you great tidings as well.

  • I am loving this rather irreverent devotional.
  • Starbucks has made a gingerbread store kit. I am a coffee addict, and a loyal Starbucks follower. For better or worse, this charming display of corporate charm has me giggling. My mom and I enjoyed the delightful hour it took to put this together. The box always looks more polished but hey, we tried.
  • A wine bottle warmer? Why does wine need a snuggie? Nevertheless, we wouldn’t purchase this for our wine but rather my mom’s small dog Ella. It would fit her perfectly. We didn’t purchase it, but we could have, because that’s America.
  • Puppy snuggles by my Christmas tree. Doesn’t it look like she likes reading too?

Take a listen will ya? What is bringing you comfort and joy? The search can be beautiful.

 

 

Giving Light – Lindsey K.

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Instagram: lkethan

A quick bio: My name is Lindsey. I like long walks on the beach…haha just kidding. But really, I am a marathon and trail runner, and I love the city but could not live without nature and being outside. My family is huge and by far one of the best things in my life. I bake. And, to make a living, I do costumes for theatre, film and television (not so much the designing but the building and the dressing). I am so excited to share my list of beautiful things (disclaimer: I have six. I tried to whittle it down, I really did, but these six are equally weighted in my “most beautiful right now” category. Actually these things are on my “most beautiful always” list.

1. A child’s laugh

I mean honestly, have you ever not smiled at a child giggling? It’s impossible. Children have this sheer joy. Joy that cannot be rivaled. And it doesn’t have to be anything hilarious to get children to crack a smile, open their mouths and let out a squeal. Earlier this week on the phone my niece and nephew told me about a movie they just saw, Moana.

Apparently one of the characters gets shot in the butt with a blow dart and exclaims, ‘Really? A blow dart in my butt cheek?’ Now it took us a solid five minutes to get that story from their mouths to my understanding, with a lot of help from my mom, aka Grandma. Several bouts of laughter rolled through the car as the phrase was repeated over and over. I hope that we can all find that unadulterated joy in life and let ourselves giggle.

Here’s a link that instantly makes me smile and then laugh. I mean this kid thinks tearing paper is hilarious. Enjoy.

2. My mother

I know most people think their parents are great. As kids we write poems and essays about them being our heroes – apart of course from one of the main guys Captain America, Batman, Superman, Bond, James Bond. But this is different. This is something special. This is someone special and no list of beauty could be complete without her.

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Sure, sure I’ve gone through the typical daughter phases with my mother but as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized she embodies beauty. Outside, of course she is incredibly beautiful, but her true beauty radiates from the inside out. She is one of my best friends and I am continually learning how to be a decent human from her. She is thoughtful and generous. She loves completely. If you need something she will take care of you, your children, your bill you can’t pay. Her house is always open and full of food ready to be shared. She often offers her home and hospitality even to people she doesn’t know, friends of friends. I have always felt loved and accepted by her.

How amazing to have someone who doesn’t necessarily understand your lifestyle or chris-3choices but asks questions to better grasp it and allows you to be who you are, flaws and all, with complete support (With motherly concern and advice of course). Every young woman deserves a strong female example. I hope that one day I can exhibit one fifth of the beauty she does. **Oh, and bonus, she is a ham. She’ll pose crazy for pictures all day. She is the first to hop on the dance floor and the last to leave. If you ever need to invite someone to ensure the party gets started and stays hoppin’ my mom is the one you want.

3. People

Seriously, humans are beautiful. There are so many different people. Different races, ethnicities, religions, social classes, hair colors, eye colors, education levels, sexualities. The permutations are endless. How incredible is that? We are all so unique yet created with the same four basic genes coded just so. I wish I could explain how full my heart gets thinking of humans. Have you ever seen someone or a group pass by and they make you smile? They are falling in love or learning to use the subway or arguing about what type of milk to buy or seeing the energy that is Times Square for the first time.

(Let’s be real, sometimes those same people test my patience with their sprawling slow slow mass group walk…it’s give and take) But they are just living life. They are doing what they do best, being themselves and without knowing it being unique. They also sometimes break my heart. Sometimes people choose hate over love of individuality. But that too is part of the beauty, no one has the same ideas or beliefs. While I strongly believe in equality, I believe that includes every opinion – no matter how hard that is to swallow. We are a resilient breed, humans, and we continue to be beautiful even when it is unintentional. Especially when it is unintentional.

Sense me getting emotional? Ha.

Beauty number four. Emotions.

Take a walk with me for a moment. Imagine you are talking with someone you are attracted to. You are close. You are smiling, laughing, enjoying each other’s company. They get closer. Soon your faces seem like they should be touching, yet somehow they aren’t. You get those butterflies, a warmth, a safe nervousness. The buzz is intoxicating. There is an unspoken electricity in the air just before you touch. Feel that? That crush? That lust? That love? The happy emotions are easier to appreciate.

But those hard emotions, the ones we run away from, we hide, we do anything we can to get rid of as fast as possible. Those feelings. They have value too. Sadness, heartache, pain. Those are the big ones. The “kick you in the face with a steel toed boot while you are already curled in a ball on the floor” feelings. Why do we run from these? There is beauty in pain. We grow during these times. It doesn’t feel like it but we do. We learn more about ourselves. We learn our strength. I know it’s scary but I encourage you to sit in those emotions. As J.K. Rowling says, through Dumbledore in the Goblet of Fire, ‘Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.’

Let them take their course. Count yourself lucky because we get to feel. We get to be inspired by happiness, love, lust, pain, heartache, fear, anger, rage. They all serve a purpose. They are all beautiful in their own way. I will leave emotions with this:

‘Right in the difficult we must have our joys, our happiness, our dreams: there against the depth of this background, they stand out, there for the first time we see how beautiful they are.’ -Rilke

5. Art

With so much emotion there must be a release. For some this release is tears: tears of joy or pain or confusion. For others exercise, Facebook statuses, Instagrams. And then there is art. Beautiful, amazing art. I’m not talking about art that is beautiful (although that has a place in this category) but I am talking about art itself. The act of art, the pretty, the messy, the misunderstood art. Music, dance, paintings, installations, performance, theatre, poetry, writing, pottery, digital, religious, political, personal. It’s all beautiful. I know not every form is everyone’s cup of tea but man is it amazing to see something created. To feel the raw emotion behind the action. Art allows people to feel through someone else, it asks the viewer to trust and let go, it asks the hard questions, it pulls back the bandaid on the festering wound and begs to be healed. Even if you don’t understand a lot of art or don’t feel this beauty, this emotional connection, it still serves a purpose. Ever turned on the radio to distract yourself? Gone to a theatre or movie to get out of the real world if only for a few hours? Taken a date to an art museum, concert, or fancy garden/park?

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Art. It’s society’s heartbeat. And just by looking back at art from a different time we can find the pulse of that society. Art allows a safe space for people to truly feel both in the creation and the absorption of it – given of course the permission to let the art move them. Some of my favorite art is the type that most people don’t like. It’s the weird, gross, uncomfortable art. It’s also the ‘my kindergartener does that same crap’ art. I could spend days explaining it but the best answer is the shortest one. It moves me. It digs its claws into my soul and perches there. I know it doesn’t always make sense. But isn’t that beautiful?

Finally, your bonus beautiful thing. New York City

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Granted I am biased; I get to call this one-of-a-kind world city my home. I am still a baby to the city. I’ve only lived here five years but it still takes my breath away. I still walk all over the city and discover new things. The three bridges that connect my borough to the main island still fill me with joy and pride. It is a city of exceptional beauty. Street art, tall buildings, our parks, the history, the people. We pride ourselves on diversity. We are loyal beings to Lady Liberty and her domestic playground. I fell in love the first time I visited and haven’t been able to break the habit. It’s insane how she will knock you around, give you hope just to toss you around again, and then cradle you showing you her vulnerable side. This city is not for the weak of heart. It’s often described as, ‘a place I love to visit but could never live in.’ I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

I’ve met the most interesting people while exploring the city. I’ve dated, tindered, been involved in emotional black holes, sworn off dating, and been pulled back in. I’ve quit jobs, taken freelance work, and prayed my job security was stable enough. I’ve been out until 6 in the morning watching the sunrise as I get out my keys. I’ve come home at 5 in the evening just to cuddle up with Netflix and fall asleep by 8. I’ve seen world class art and back alley performances. I’ve been pushed to my limits, broken, and put back together again. Ultimately, I have fallen in love with myself. Could all these things happen in another city? I’m sure, but not for me. This city has completely shaped me. She has allowed me to find myself, never asking why but always encouraging me to explore. What a beaut.

 

If you are interested in giving your own light, click here to learn more.

 

Giving Light – Katie M.

Giving Light – Katie M.

Follow Along on Instagram: kjmye8                             Personal Blog: www.livestepbystep.com

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Small bio: Hi! I’m Katie. I’m a late twenty-something trying to take daily steps towards something beautiful, both in myself and in life. I’ll never say no to sushi, chocolate, hugs, or a trip to a coffee shop. Make me laugh or laugh at my jokes, and we’ll be fast friends.

I love this idea, giving light. My world has been a bit dark for a little while, and there have been things that have been beautiful and anchoring.

1. Coffee

I love everything about this daily ritual. Journeying to the coffee shops, enjoying conversations with the baristas, sitting and journaling or reading or studying, drinking the delicious mix of almond milk, vanilla and espresso (my go-to). I have lived in coffee shops this past year, and although it can get pricey, it’s worth it to me.

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Latte art gets me every time.

2. Conversation

Whether it’s a small conversation with someone on the elevator, or a deep conversation with a dear friend, it’s these pieces of conversation that keep me tethered to what matters to me. I’ve always loved people, their stories, the small moments that can change a day and remind you that we’re all human and living this beautiful, challenging and changing life. We have a choice to fill each other up in these conversations, and that’s what I try to focus on.

3. Laughter

Who doesn’t like to laugh? But stand-up comedy on Netflix is something I thrive on and was the only thing I would watch at points this year. I also cherish laughs with friends and family. When you’re both laughing so hard you can’t breathe and tears come to your eyes, that is the absolute best.

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My brother and I: the beatboxing-ukulele duo.

4. Dogs

Is there something that always makes you happy? For me, that’s looking at a dog (usually big and/or fluffy ones). And maybe even more so, people’s reactions to dogs. It’s like they melt, and their eyes light up with glee and they start speaking in a “dog voice.” “PUP!” … “I want him!!”… “He’s SO CUTE!” All of these spoken by yours truly when a big dog or puppy crosses my path. Someday I will get one of my own.

5. Spontaneity

My favorite plans are the spontaneous ones with other people. I think because they are created out of a desire that feels most like myself in that moment, and the stars somehow align perfectly to create a space where anything can happen and everyone’s in. “Hey, this band is in town and playing tonight! Wanna go?” or “let’s take a roadtrip” or “I want tacos right now. Let’s go!” I have met some life-changing people through spontaneous choices. I am grateful for spontaneity and the friends that join me in it!

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(Source: http://weheartit.com/entry/180250043)

Thank you for reading, friends!

If you are interested in giving your own light, click here to learn more.

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52 Thankfuls

52 Things to Be Thankful For This Year (in no particular order)

1. My Husband

2. My Mom, My Brother, My In-laws

3. The Legacy My Dad Created

4. Kleenex Tissues

5. Travel

6.  Soft Slippers

7.  Friends who wipe your snot, pick up the phone, rub your back

8.  Writing

9. Lawn Furniture

10. Access to Resources

11. Mentors

12. God’s Grace

13. Photographs

14. My Puppy

15. The Mountains

16. Traditions

17. My Tribe

18.  Learning How to Make Pie Crust

19. Fancy Shampoo

20. Flannel Sheets

21. Wineries

22. Sunday Night Dinner

23. Sunday Football

24. Floral Arrangements

25. Tapas

26. Starbucks

27. Time to Grieve

28. Time to Laugh

29. The SNL Election Skits

30. Snail Mail

31. Oatmeal for Breakfast

32. Text Messages

33. Second Chances

34. Riding Bikes

35. Bitmoji

36. Self-Care Days

37. Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show

38. Treats – Cheese Danishes, Chocolate Covered Almonds, Peanut Butter Cups

39. Natural Hot Springs

40. Massages

41. Coupons

42. God’s Provision

43. Fires in the Backyard

44. Tea Before Bed

45. Essie Nail Polish

46. My Cousins

47.  Worship Songs – Particularly This One

48.  Clean Water

49. Our Caretakers

50. All the People who Brought Lasagna – Every Single One of You.

51. Being Brave Enough to Start Over

52. Patience

Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours. What are you thankful for this year?

Giving Light – Emily A.

I was so excited when I noticed an email light up my phone this morning! Our first entrant! I wished I could have rushed home to put this post together. Thank you to Emily for being the first to share her 5 beautiful things.

Giving Light – Emily A

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Small Bio: I’m Emily. Momma by occupation. INFJ. Lover of nap time, justice, being outside, efficiency and learning.

1.My exuberant and exhausting six month old son’s sweet, gummy grin.file_001

2. Mountains

Last night I had a dream that Hazel Green, Alabama was only a 15 minute drive to the snow covered glory of Alaskan mountain ranges. I was so frustrated I’d lived here a year before figuring this out. If only.

3. Long distance friendships.

We are different people than we were 12 years ago in our freshman year of high school, but despite all the changes and the separation of miles and months, our loyalty and commitment have grown. Long live the group text.

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4. Me

I AM BEAUTIFUL. Without exception or apology. Even if it feels like a lie or an arrogant thing to say, I will keep reminding myself anyway. Because as a woman, there is hardly anything more radical and revolutionary than self-love in the face of a consumer culture that wants to convince us we’re not and sell us the solution. I AM BEAUTIFUL. You are, too.

5.The small gifts in the daily grind.

Since reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, I have tried to make a discipline of noticing the holy handouts in the mundane. They are many.

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I love this quote by Andy Rooney about such gifts.

“For most of life, nothing wonderful happens. If you don’t enjoy getting up and working and finishing your work and sitting down to a meal with family or friends, then the chances are that you’re not going to be very happy. If someone bases his happiness or unhappiness on major events like a great new job, huge amounts of money, a flawlessly happy marriage or a trip to Paris, that person isn’t going to be happy much of the time. If, on the other hand, happiness depends on a good breakfast, flowers in the yard, a drink or a nap, then we are more likely to live with quite a bit of happiness.”

If you are interested in giving your own light, click here to learn more.