guest post

Deeply Awake – Guest Post by Zoë

Have you ever come across an essay and thought, “Wow! Another human being understands the way I view the world!” As a writer, a quiet observer of humans, I’m constantly wondering if others have the same sensitive intuition as me. When Zoë emailed asking if she could post on my blog, and I read her essay, I inhaled deeply into her words. She gets it. She’s wired like me, at least a little bit. I’ve got sisters and brothers and sensitive folk out there doing the same beautiful work as me. I feel honored to share her perspective. From one beauty seeker to another, write on.

Author: Zoë

Her favorite quote: “i thank You God for most this amazing / day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees / and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything / which is natural which is infinite which is yes”  – e. e. cummings

Lately I’ve wanted to write about beauty. When I say lately, I mean for months—
and for months I haven’t written a thing. It daunts me to render something so
vast and brilliant in plain words, and my mind spirals in a hundred directions. I
still don’t know how the thoughts will come together. What I know is that beauty
wants to be written about. It’s been knocking softly over these months of
avoidance, and I’ve come into surrender, and so begin.

. . .

Our acquaintance is long, I’ve always loved beautiful things. When I was little I
slipped into imagination easily and intuitively and no one demanded answers. I
collected beautiful images in a mental folio for daydreams, pouring over
photographs in coffee table books, and copies of O magazine and House &
Garden. I treasured a calendar with pictures of French countryside, and pictured
my own “some day” life nested in fine art and stylish decor in a beautiful setting.
The appeal extended beyond possessions, I wanted my whole being to be a
beautiful thing. I sat on the big purple couch in our living room and practiced
writing in cursive over and over, pouring my attention into the loops of o’s & p’s
& b’s, and the quick, elegant peaks of lowercase r’s—it wasn’t task so much as joy.
I wrote, and drew, and painted; I took pride in helping my mom choose furniture
and fabrics, and in laying out outfits for her to wear. I courted loveliness with the
unspoken belief that it would enrich my life, or really that it already was.

I continued to harbor that belief as I began to grow up. Driver’s license in hand,
many of my first independent trips were to beautiful places that made the world
feel quiet and deep. I went outside, into green spaces and under trees. I went into
chapels and galleries, and visited art I loved. I sat before text and pictures, and let
myself steep in their harmonies. I obeyed the same gravitational pull that lured
me into daydreams, the same finger wagging me towards pockets of delight. I
followed enchantment with beautiful things.

Beauty inspired more substantial decisions, too. In high school I let it direct me
to my first job in a restaurant with windows on a stylish plant nursery across a
little green lawn. At night Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday swam through the
candlelight like honey and kept the restaurant glowing. I wasn’t always excited
for long shifts on my feet but my delight was renewed in going to a beautiful
place, and getting to be part of its melody. When I had to choose a college, an
impalpable charm drew me to the school I attended on first glance. Even from the
car, its campus had the same lyrical poise as a poem, and held me under the same
power of awe.

I would go on to choose apartments the same way, and find myself laying tracks
in beautiful spaces wherever I went. Now, I often get pressed into the fog of daily obligations and then wake up to some physical grace, like a silk scarf, or leaves on
a tree branch, twirling together madly in a sudden breath. Out of the daily plod of
emails, errands, and hourly pay emerges something plainly extraordinary, like
sun on the grass, and my spirit lights anew. Sometimes I don’t watch the road as
carefully as I should in the car; my eyes drag on glassy pond-tops, shop windows
and wings outstretched in the sky; my heaven is a perch with a view.

. . .

The question of vanity is raised, and also the question of escape. Isn’t it
superficial to swoon for aesthetics? Isn’t it irresponsible to abandon screens and
numbers and the high-stakes sport of “figuring out?” What do you get from
simple reverie? The spreadsheet and the checkbook demand an answer. The
insurance company demands an answer, and the accountant, and the banker, and
the boss.

For a long time I asked these questions, too. I thought I must use beauty as a
means to escape or avoid, running away to a false palace of my mind. I assumed
my delight was undisciplined. I reasoned that it was, by nature, a weakness.
It’s easy to confuse immersion with escape.

Today I know the difference. I still seek out brilliance in nature and art, and
anything else that stills my soul. It’s no secret that I know how to escape, and
have plenty of practice, but now I see that beauty never asks me to hide.
Submerging into wonder might look going to sleep, and perhaps it is a kind of
numbing to the outside world. It asks to be prioritized over tasks and lists and
news headlines. It asks that I surrender thinking, and let myself be led. But on the
other side of that quiet I hear my own harmony in a timeless choir. I come to
know myself as lovely and beloved. I come home to my necessity in the great,
mosaicked mystery of everything alive.

The world may continue to question. All I can offer is heartbeat, and sky reflected
in my eyes. All I can do is continue, pen in hand; there’s more to see and more to
say. I keep an eye out for wonder, and the discovery reminds me I am never
asleep in beauty, but only more deeply awake.

Lessons in Solitude – Guest Post from Kirby Elaine

Life lessons come in many shapes and forms. When Kirby of The Joy List started following me on Instagram, I instantly loved her vibe. Her perspective is refreshing. Another person looking for good in the world, and perhaps more importantly, good in themselves! She was kind enough to share some of my musings on her blog, and I am thrilled to have her share her thoughts as a guest contributor here today. Beauty in solitude and returning to self.

Author: Kirby Elaine

Her Website:

Her Mantra: “love the life you live”

If you asked me three months ago what my greatest “achilles heel” was, I’d say loneliness. The vulnerability that came from sitting at home alone or walking through this world as one set of footprints was so foreign to me and not something I had any interest in exploring. Three months ago, I made a decision to begin what I am now calling my “Self Love Journey,” but let me say, this decision did not come without it’s challenges. For months I had felt a burning in my throat and sharp pains in the middle of my chest, and any time I placed my hand on my heart I heard a voice, a voice that so sweetly and simply said “you need to be alone.”

I tried to silence it, not wanting to give into the vulnerability of what actually being alone might hold for me. I filled the empty spaces with more food and more alcohol, I kept my mind busy with my bartending work and copious amounts of classes and scene work for Acting. And ironically, every time I sat down to write, I immediately found a distraction or reason not to. Ego control, anyone?

What I can now see so clearly is that I wasn’t ready for the whole truth, and writing is, and always has been a truth-seeking practice for me. I sit down and my fingers channel the truth of what lies inside my heart. So let’s just get down to it and say that my heart finally won the battle (thank you, my strong, beautiful heart). My solo Journey began, and what I soon found was that without the distractions and worries over others and how I was affecting every single person I came in contact with, and without the self-
doubt and self-sabotage, I was able to tap into the childish innocence I have always known was inside and that I have always valued so deeply as one of my gifts. Through the journey of being alone I have remembered and repaired the relationship of who I am to ME.

I am a lover
I am a lightworker
I am joyous
I am that girl who get’s excited over beautiful fruit at the market
I am the one who stares at each Sunset as if I’ve never seen one before
I hug people deeper and longer than maybe I should
I tell people I love them, all the time
I share my gratitude with myself and anyone who will listen
I don’t apologize for my new ways of thinking and living
I don’t shrink myself to fit was is “acceptable”
I laugh loudly
I speak up
I do things that others may not always like, and that’s ok with me, because no matter what, now I always lead with nothing but love, and I stand up for myself when I feel my boundaries have been crossed.


Three months ago I was a different Woman. Myself, yes, but I was scared and overwhelmed and weak from self doubt and guilt. Three months ago I truly and honestly didn’t know why I was even still here, I didn’t understand how I could possibly have a purpose, and within three months (less, if I’m being honest) I have found my life’s work, my life’s purpose, and each and every day I walk around with my head held high, buzzing in gratitude and anticipation for the gifts the day ahead of me will bring.
No matter how alone you may feel now, no matter how lost or weary, know that there is a way out, and it comes from Self Love. It’s time to fall deeply, madly, head-over-heels in love with yourself. It’s time to empower yourself to live the life you deserve, and if you ever need guidance, never be afraid to ask, we may be just meeting now in these words, but I’m always here – THAT is my gift to you.

Stay hungry my friends, I promise that this life has SO much for you ❤
In light and love,


Kirby lives and works in LA and describes herself as the following: hugger. writer. actor. improviser. dancer. dreamer. lover of animals. advocate for a healthy mind|body|soul

You can follow her on her blog or on Instagram.

Beauty is Fleeting – Guest Post by Chelsea Nenno

Here it is folks, the last guest post of the year. Thank you to all of the writers who have chosen to share their journeys with me this year. This week’s post is written by my online Pen Pal Chelsea Nenno. I don’t quite recall how we found each other, and have never actually met in person, but we have connected over blog posts and tweets throughout the year. The internet is an amazing thing. I resonate so much with her thoughts and have appreciated hearing her version of her “20 something” story. I was thrilled when she said she would share her version of beauty here. So without further ado….

Author: Chelsea Nenno

Blog: My Life in Words        Twitter: @chelseanenno

Beauty is Fleeting.  – Proverbs

A few months back I stood in the airport waiting for a friend of a friend to arrive. The gate monitor told us they’d be late. I’ve always liked the airport at night, so I didn’t mind. Three teenage boys moved away from the walkway and headed to their seats excited and… teenag-y. A gruff middle aged man walked back to his woman, slouched in the chair and threw his arm around her. An asian gentleman scuffled to the opposite end of the building where no one else was sitting.

It was the old man who caught my attention as he looked both ways then found a seat close by the crowd. His golfer cap leaned a little to the right as he crossed his left leg and placed his hands on his lap.

I figured he was waiting for an old buddy coming back from visiting his grandchildren. Maybe he was picking up his own. Nothing about him was extraordinary, just interesting.

The overhead speaker announced the flights had landed. A gray haired, gray clothed, gray attitude asked me “Who just landed?” I pointed at the screen to show her which flight, She nodded and walked off. Nothing about her made me intrigued.

Travelers descended down the escalators and toward the arrival gate. The teenage boys were the first to be seen as they stood on tiptoes eager to see their friend. The gruff man took the bag of his hipster daughter and walked toward the baggage claim. It was busy as hugs were passed and loud hello’s and men with headphones and long coats made their way to the taxi’s outside.

In the hustle, and at the corner of my eye, that old man, shuffled his way to the gate and met a tall petite dark haired woman with a french accent and an old small rounded woman with a black stylish purse. Her eyes said she was glad to be home and His arms were opened wide as he welcomed her. He embraced the older woman and kissed her right on the lips. He put himself in the middle, wrapped his arms around the two of them and walked out the doors.

Everything around me was happening so fast. I wrapped my friend in a hug as we walked outside to my car. My mind still on the little glimpse of something I thought was beautiful.

I don’t know why that was beautiful to me. I don’t even have words that describe what I felt when I watched that old man embrace what he loved, held them tight, protecting them from the cold and eager to get them home.

Maybe it was because I was stuck in a place where nothing was beautiful. The world had turned black and purpose and meaning and love and joy had all escaped from the bubble I’d been living in. I had felt like my world was caving in and all that I wanted to be good was throwing nightmares and gossip and ugly at my face. And this one little moment, this one tiny little moment, brought all the light back to my dark world.

The next day I was driving home to my parents out on the lake thinking of the old man. Something to my right caught my attention and me, the only person on the road, at the right time, saw a 60 foot tree in the woods crack, bend and fall to the ground, bouncing back up a few times then coming to a rest. All in the 15 seconds it took me to pass it on the highway.

Fleeting, was my first thought when I saw that tree. So shortly lived yet something that filled the rest of my day with anticipation for what I might see next.

I’ve always believed God has showed his love to me by the simple things in life that only He knows I would appreciate. Only He would know how much that old man would affect me by simpling wrapping his love around those two women. Only He would know how much emotion it would bring me to be the only one, in the world, to see that tree fall in the forest. Only He would know that what I find beautiful is that which most everyone looks past.

When I think of beauty I don’t think of chiseled faces, or perfectly defined abs. I don’t see color or even perfect shapes. Beauty seems to be this odd, short lived moment that happens when you least expect it. It’s as if Beauty is a living, breathing work of art that floats around and hopes that it’s not seen, and when it is, it hides quickly as if not wanting to be captured.

Maybe I’m speaking to much from my thoughts and not making much sense but what I am beginning to believe of beauty is that it’s a moment. A moment that once seen, tasted, heard, felt, it’s the only thing that keeps me wanting to search for more. It’s the only thing last lasts.

I hope that during this season of frenzied chaos, family drama, sparkly lights, and little children, you will glimpse beauty that is just for you. Just like that old man and the tree. It was just for me. I pray the same for you. May the beauty you see fill you with anticipation for more and eagerness to share it with others so they may see their own beauty too.

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Chelsea currently lives in the Pacific North West, is in school for massage therapy, works two jobs and writes in her spare time. She is anxiously awaiting the summertime and chooses to believe everyday is Friday. You can find her at or My Life In Words

The Beauty in Change

I’m happy to be bringing to you the second guest blog post here at 52 Beautiful Things. Ms. Stoecker and I quickly bonded as our awkward sixth grade selves found each other in a bible study. We have been friends, working and growing into who we are meant to be, ever since.

Author: Jenny Stoecker  

Twitter: @JennyStoecker   Blog:

I have never met a chick flick I didn’t like. It should embarrass me to admit that anything from Hallmark to Lifetime to a downright classic makes my heart happy…but I love them so much it doesn’t matter. My top three favorites are You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, and While You Were Sleeping. If you haven’t seen them before, go do so now. I’ll wait…

I’ve learned a lot about love from these movies: that you can find it in an “Over Thirty” chat room, on the top of the Empire State Building, or while pretending to be engaged to someone in a coma. (So far none of these scenarios have panned out well for me, but I’ll keep you posted.) The more realistic aspect of these movies I’ve carried with me has to do with change.

In While You Were Sleeping, the supposed love of Sandra Bullock’s life goes into a coma. How does she handle this earth-shattering change? By creating her own idealistic (um…unrealistic) fairytale scenario. In Sleepless in Seattle, Tom Hank’s wife dies and he moves across the country, combating one life change with another. In You’ve Got Mail, Meg Ryan is forced to close her store and handles it with resentment and a lot of tears.

When facing change in the past, I’ve stood with Meg and shared her sentiments, “People are always telling you that change is a good thing. But all they’re really saying is that something you didn’t want to happen at all has happened.”

I met upcoming life changes with worry about the future while grasping so tightly to the present that I forgot to really enjoy either one.

Growing up, I was never the kid who wanted to be adult. The never-grow-up mentality was still with me four years ago when I was forced to graduate college. I was thrown into a world I wasn’t ready for—one where I was lonely, under qualified, and ready to quit. Yet looking back, it was in that season of difficult change that I learned patience, independence, and to trust the Lord in a deeper way then ever before.

While Meg was right that I hadn’t wanted the change to happen, it turned out to be the bearer of so much beauty in my world. It was with this realization that my heart slowly (I mean really slowly) began to long for the new growth that only change can bring.

This mindset gave me the freedom to dream without holding back and I started to ask myself, “What would I dive into if I wasn’t afraid of change?”

For me the answer was graduate school. So in less then two months, I’ll be moving to Scotland to pursue a masters. I’ve never been to Scotland (although I hope it’s filled with kilts, bagpipes, and Harry Potter) and I don’t know anyone who lives there. In the past this would have gone one of two ways: I would have been so excited to go that I neglected the present, or so freaked out to go that I clung too tightly to what was already the past.

Instead, without the fear of change, God has given me the ability to soak in every bit of goodness in my life here in the States, while still being healthily excited about what He has for me next. Change is forcing me to recognize the gifts I currently have, and the hopes I so long to see come to fruition.

Like Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks ending up together at the end of every rom-com (that’s romantic comedy for any males that have actually made it to the end of this post), change is inevitable. I have come to agree with those Meg criticizes—change is a good thing, because it has become the catalyst that causes me to see beauty in my every day. How do you view change?

JS Bio PicJenny makes her home in her favorite state of Colorado. She loves Jesus, pancakes, traveling, photography, sarcasm, making lists and people. She’s passionate about the work she does, serving people in poverty with VisionTrust International. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter @JennyStoecker. Don’t forget to check out her blog

The Unexpected Beauty

The Beatles spoke wisdom when they wrote, “I get by with a little help from my friends.”

Sometimes, I need a break, a pause, a whisper of relief and shared experiences in the pursuit of joy and beauty. So, this week, I am thrilled to post my first guest post from a dear friend.  Read her thoughts, share in her search. Follow her in her own journey by connecting on social media.

Author: Katie Myers                     Instagram/Twitter: @kjmyers8


“Isn’t it wonderful how big the definition of beautiful can be? Sometimes I’m just overwhelmed by the simple beauty of things and people. And it can be defined and redefined every day. Living in Colorado I am lucky enough to experience some of the most beautiful natural settings, but more beautiful still have been the interactions I have with people on a daily basis. To me, when I think of beauty I think of getting a heart drawn on my to-go coffee cup from my favorite barista. Or of the tiny hands and big creativity of my nieces and nephews. Beauty is a dog sticking its head out of a car window, a look of pure joy on its face as it looks on into the wind. These things make my heart happy.

There is a quote that I found from the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay that says “Beauty is whatever gives joy.” I love that. Beauty and joy definitely go hand in hand for me most times. But what can also be beautiful are the things that don’t always bring immediate joy, but lasting growth.

These past few months I’ve been experiencing number 258 of my identity/quarter-life/I’m an adult but I don’t feel like an adult crises. In trying to figure out how I fit into my life and it fits me, I’ve felt incomplete to say the least. If I look at my life I have what can be defined as “successful”: a great job downtown and an awesome place to live in a great area near downtown. But even though I am so extremely grateful for those things, I had a realization that it’s time for me to start taking steps in a different direction…my direction.

Up until this point I’ve been living a path laid out for me; a yellow brick road of “go to the schools my older siblings went to, go to the college my older siblings went to, graduate, find a job that happens to be where my older sibling is, and find a place to live in a place that is deemed ‘popular to live in'”. Where was me in all of that? Even though I was making those decisions, I wasn’t owning them as being a part of myself and who I ultimately want to be. Who do I ultimately want to be, you ask? Well I realized that I ultimately just want to be myself, without all of the strings of others’ expectations attached.

I can’t tell you how much even that shift in thinking has changed me. Even though my job is still the same and I’m in the same place with the same relationship status, I’ve decided to own the decisions I’ve made up to this point, and the ones that will come after. I do feel more like myself, and I like who I am. I’m paying more attention to what I’m interested in and what I want to do, and I make lists to remind me of those things. Happy, uninhibited lists that include “go rollerblading”, “learn more French”, “get a dog”, “buy a polaroid camera” and “run through a fountain”. Why limit ourselves? Amazingly as the years go by, even though the big things might not fall into place yet, there are a bunch of little things that come together to make you feel more whole day by day. You experience life, take what you need to grow, and you’ll realize one day that you’re more of who you want to be.

When you’re younger you think that a certain age will feel a certain way, and then when you actually get to that age you realize you’re just…you! You’re just you and you’re living life, and that’s the only way you can really “define” it. In a way, that’s beautiful. I’m coming to learn piece by piece that the unknown and the incomplete are valuable and ok. There are beautiful things that you can take from the everyday and tie into your own life to help shape it.

IMG_0506You can constantly define and re-define your life, and define and re-define beauty. I hope that you find the beauty in yourselves as well as the everyday, friends. Thank you for letting me share a piece of my life in this wonderful, creative and inspiring space.”

When not drinking coffee, reading in a cafe, or playing guitar, Ms. Myers can be found on her blog “Stepping Stones”

If you are interested in sharing your thoughts on the pursuit of beauty in your own life, email for more info.