Friday, April 15, 2011

You are Beautiful and Capable, Part 2

This is my little sister, Katie:

She just turned twelve.  She is everything that I think a pre-teen girl should be.  She’s smart, funny, obnoxious and care-free; she would wear athletic shorts, a t-shirt and flip-flops to church every Sunday if dad would let her; she secretly loves hates Justin Bieber; and, to be perfectly honest, she thinks I’m pretty much the coolest person in the world.

She adores and mimics me in more ways than I even know…

Last year I went through a phase of wearing pigtails.  Within a couple of hours of me visiting home from college, her hair was also in pigtails (coincidence? I think not).

I have to be pretty selective with my word choice.  She has been known to take-on words or phrases I use often (freaky, random and awkward all come to mind).

I just so happen to be in over half of her profile pictures on facebook (not that I’m counting or anything).

And last spring when I caught a case of Bieber fever, she warmed-up to the teenage heartthrob too (ok, so I made this one up… a girl can dream, though, right?).

The admiration that this young, impressionable girl has for me is flattering, humbling and incredibly overwhelming.  This responsibility makes me cautious and intentional about everything that I say and do in front of her.

I have been going through a hard time recently.  I have been struggling to no end with self-doubt, negative self-image and destructive self-talk.  I have brought myself down.  I have felt like a failure, a waste of space and someone undeserving of love.

I have looked in the mirror and told myself that I am disgusting.  I have avoided people and secluded myself in fear of breaking down.  I have cried myself to sleep and endured several sleepless nights wishing that I (looked, talked, sang, dressed, worked, wrote, felt, lived) like someone else.  I have been in a pretty low place.

Last week I called Katie.  I talked to her for 20 minutes, merely asking her questions and listening to her simplistic, hilarious, pre-teen answers.  It was so refreshing from the complicated, dry, adult-like conversations I seem to be having more and more recently.  Growing up really sucks the fun out of some people.  I could tell in her voice that she loved every minute of our conversation.  It was a time of undivided attention from her big sister who lives five hours away.

When I hung up the phone, I wondered if Katie ever felt the way that I had been in the past couple weeks.  I suddenly broke down at the thought of her hating the way she looks, feeling like she isn’t good enough or acting like she doesn’t deserve love.  It broke my heart to think about the greatest, funniest and sweetest girl in the world beating herself up the way that I did most of my pre-teen, teen and young adult years.  I was tempted to call her back and, through my sobs, yell at her, “You are beautiful, funny and amazing just the way you are! Don’t ever feel like you aren’t good enough!”

I quickly began to wonder why I couldn’t believe the same thing I was dying for my little sister understand.  If it broke my heart to think of Katie feeling that way, how much must it break my husband’s, my mother’s and my best friend’s heart each time I make a negative comment about the way I look and the way I feel?

I want Katie to grow up strong, confident, bold and adventurous.  I want her to feel beautiful not only on the outside but also on the inside because of her kind heart, her joyful spirit, her spunky attitude and because, simply, she is a child of God's.  As Lady Gaga my mother always told me, God makes no mistakes.

But how could I expect Katie to be confident and to be secure in herself when her big sister, her role-model, constantly scrutinized herself and never felt good enough?  It’s like decaf coffee:  It’s a walking contradiction.  It just doesn't work.  She could emulate my hair, my sense of humor, my adventurous spirit and my taste in music, but I could never forgive myself if she emulated the way I felt about and treated myself.

Ditching my negative, destructive and pessimistic thoughts and embracing my beauty, talents and uniqueness never seemed more important.

The last installment of this series will be coming soon… stay tuned.  

Thanks for reading, you are all so beautiful.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

missing person.

This is Hubz:

I haven't seen him or heard from him in a few days.

This, however, is the man who keeps coming into my apartment, eating my food and trying to kiss me:

I may put out a missing person's ad.  I may also call the police.  I'm getting a little concerned.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tuesday Tune

I can't stop listening to this song.
I can't stop thinking about this song.
I can't stop singing this song.
And I can't stop watching this video... because it's super bizarre.

Last week Caitlin wrote one of the best blog posts I've ever read (you should probably go read that before you listen to this song... then come back and listen to this song.  Or listen to this song and read that post at the same time... really the possibilities are endless) and referenced this song.  Ever since then this song has replaced "Friday"as the tune that is constantly in my head, which was a very welcome change.  I know, big surprise.

Pretty sure this song will be going on my workout playlist ASAP... or as soon as I can convince Hubz to let me buy it on iTunes, since he brings home the bacon cupcakes and all.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

the vehicle of novelists and poets.

Guess who officially owns a bike...?

...This Girl!!

This was one of the things I was most looking forward to crossing off The List.  I just need to buy a helmet and a bike chain and I will be hitting the road!


Saturday, April 9, 2011

exceeding happiness.

Readers, meet Junior Year Kayla (on the far right, looking smokin hot, for real).

Junior Year Kayla was optimistic, naive and 85% certified good-girl.  The other 15% of Junior Year Kayla had a desire to be just slightly rebellious.  So how does Jesus-Freak, trumpet-playing, bubbly Junior Year Kayla rebel?  She wears bracelets... multiple bracelets... layered on top of the other... while wearing a Disneyland t-shirt.  Attempted rebellion FTW.

Junior Year Kayla loved herself and the little things that made her unique...

  • She loved Jesus and wanted the whole world to know it
  • She drove wherever, and almost whenever, she wanted (although she could only enter the car via two of its four doors)
  • She (usually) hung out with guy friends and avoided (most of) the typical drama that comes from high school girls
  • She was a full-fledged band geek and had a sultry, sexy flugelhorn solo in jazz band (though she never would have referred to it as "sexy"... "sexy" was a dirty word to Junior Year Kayla)
  • And it sure didn't hurt that The Tuba-Player she was infatuated with thought she was the hottest thing since Drum Corps International (or he did for a few months at least)

Junior Year Kayla was excessively happy and she wanted to make sure everyone knew.  In fact, during one of her "I-like-you-and-I-know-you-like-me-so-we're-giddy-but-have-never-kissed-and-are-embarrassed-to-hold-hands-in-front-of-our-friends" phone conversations with The Tuba-Player, he suggested that she make a book of all the things that made her excessively happy... which, of course, she did.

The next day, Junior Year Kayla bought a new notebook and doodled the title, "Things That Make Me Excessively Happy" on the front.  Within the first week, Junior Year Kayla had listed over 100 things in her book, ranging from Jesus' excessive love for the world, to The Tuba-Player's new cologne, to her new pink-sequined-cowgirl shirt.  Junior Year Kayla really enjoyed junior year.

But, somewhere along the way, Junior Year Kayla became Senior Year Kayla, The Tuba-Player lost interest,  she bought a new car and she learned that "sexy"wasn't necessarily a bad word.  Soon enough, Senior Year Kayla became Freshman at Northwestern College Kayla and her book, along with all the memories that went into it, was quickly forgotten.

This week, 20-Something Kayla remembered that book.  20-Something Kayla wished she could hold the book in her hands, smell it and run her fingers over the words that optimistic and naive Junior Year Kayla had written years ago.  20-Something Kayla desperately longed to remember and re-live the excitement and excessive happiness Junior Year Kayla emanated.

However, 20-Something Kayla is older and broader wiser than her Junior Year couterpart.  20-Something Kayla knows that happiness is fleeting and that being excessively happy won't fulfill her anymore.  20-Something Kayla needs a life that exceeds happiness:

20-Something Kayla wants to be excessively joyful.

Excessively Joyful, Volume I

1. It brings me so much joy that despite how broke we are, Hubz still thinks that flowers (for me!) are worth spending money on.  He is incredibly thoughtful.

2. Yes, those hooks are made out of real forks.  In fact, I made them  It brings me so much joy to create something fun, beautiful and unique with my own two hands.  What a blessing.

3. It brings me joy that Hubz thought to take this picture after I painted my toenails.  I love the eye that he has for creating photos and designs, but more than anything else, I'm glad that he thinks my chubby toes are cute.

4. It brings me so much joy to try new things, especially new foods.  Yesterday I decided it was time to try a unique cupcake recipe (and get one more thing crossed off The List!) and went in search of an uncommon, but still fairly simple, cupcake recipe.  I ended up making an Earl Gray Chocolate Cupcake with Lemon-Honey Cream Cheese Frosting.  D-I-V-I-N-E.  

The flavors in this cupcake are very subtle and light but work so well together.  I know it may sound a bit odd to have a chocolate cupcake flavored with ground tea, but you get more of an aroma from the earl gray than an actual taste.  Just trust me, it's really good.  Actually, it's more than good, it's freaking awesome.

On a side note, these cupcakes make me feel like more of a foodie than I've ever been (which is kind of saying a lot... I don't just like food, I like good food... real good food).  That brings me a lot of joy.

5. Hubz is getting his hair cut tomorrow.  This brings me more joy than any cupcake ever could...  I think.

Do you think there's a difference between happiness and joyfulness?  What is bringing you joy today?


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

the seasons are changing.

Since starting Keeping Up With Kayla three months ago, there have been so many days where blogging makes me feel so free and alive, and there have been a lot of other days where I feel discouraged, and feel like I have nothing to offer the blogging world.

These past two weeks I've been feeling kind of down.  I can't even begin to tell you how much all of the support and encouragement I've received has helped me through this challenging season.  I've received so many messages from people who appreciate the honesty in my blog, and that reminds me how important what I'm doing really is.  THANK YOU!!  You guys encourage me more than you can ever imagine!

All that said, I feel like I reached a blogging milestone today.  This afternoon I received my first package from a reader!  

I should probably start by saying that I have this really odd affection for mason jars.  Since I am really cheap cool, I decided to organize my bulk goods (grains, raisins, lentils, coconut, etc.) in mason jars instead of buying nice containers for all of them.  Turns out, I think they look stinkin adorable, and it saved us a lot of money!

About a month ago, Hubz and I went to Burger Jones and I asked if anyone knew where to get mason jars with handles.  As it turns out, our dear friends Kenny and Kim decided to send us some!

Guess who has two thumbs and was super pumped...?  THIS GIRL!

I'm finding a lot of joy out of the little things these days.

Just to make the day even better, it was like, 60 degrees here today!  It seems that spring has finally arrived in Minnesota!  To celebrate the momentous occasion(s), I sat outside, blogged, caught up on emails and sipped on this delicious mango iced tea!

Spiked with a couple of raspberries and a lemon slice of course!

Ingrid Michaelson is playing on Pandora, my kitchen is clean and I foresee sipping on plenty more iced tea from these fabulous jars... Could life get any better?

On second thought, I'm sure a cupcake couldn't hurt...



How awesome are these guys?  For real.

Pretty sure my new goal in life is to become a YouTube sensation.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

pretend like it's the weekend.

I started my day off with these pancakes.

Banana walnut pancakes topped off with walnuts, coconut and caramel sauce... they tasted like Jack Johnson all wrapped up in a breakfast food.  Seriously.

I think I could eat these for breakfast every day for the rest of my life... unless there are leftover cupcakes, of course.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Steals & Deals

Breaking up is hard to do.

Especially when you're breaking up with...

nice haircuts,

new dresses,

and expensive but oh-so-delicious treats.

In an attempt to be more thrifty since taking a drastic pay cut (aka: quitting my job), I have been trying to get into this whole extreme couponing thing.  I figure that we can't really cut back on our rent, student loan or car payment, but we can definitely cut back the money we spend on food, beauty and household items!

I plan to talk more about living frugally (even after our budget loosens up a little bit!) once I feel like my advice out-weighs my questions on the subject, but I wanted to share just a little frugal victory that has me all excited!  This was my first time working the coupon system:

I bought all of these items at Target for just over $4.00.  The value for all of them was over $26.00 so by using coupons and finding some great deals I saved about $22.00 on my trip.  Awesome!

Scoring a deal like this definitely lightens the blow of breaking up with new shoes, eating-out and organic peanut butter (although I'm pretty sure cupcakes will always find a place in our budget... I will buy cupcakes over gas if it comes to it).

What are your best frugal-living tips?