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I Choose to Believe My Story Has Power

Photo Courtesy of Kallima Photography

This week Conscious Magazine published the below article I wrote about parts of my past.  My soul feels naked and exposed having these words out there for you and the world to read.  I have felt more vulnerable in the last few days than I have in a very long time, but what I want more than anything is for people to know that in brokenness there is HOPE.  God is good.  He is faithful, and his promises abundant.  If just one person can connect with my story, and be encouraged then I am grateful to have shared it!

Everyone has one, and it shapes who we are, what we think, and the way we interact with ourselves and the world around us.

Story has the opportunity to tear down or create.  Story has the power to change my life, your life, the world, and the generations after us.

I choose to believe that my journey has power.

I choose to believe that one person indeed has the power to impact generations.  What if we all got to the place where we believed our unique individual stories mattered so deeply that we collectively changed the world together?  Hand in hand united for the greater good.  A story is a spark, a small flame with the power to blaze an entire forrest…if we choose it to.

Freedom begets freedom.  Creativity begets creativity, and it all begins with a story.

Here is a bit of mine.

From the outside it looks like I grew up in upper middle class in Dallas Texas, one of six kids, made good grades, was captain of the Varsity tennis team, went to state, and later played on a full ride college scholarship, was involved in church, and had a ton of friends.  You could say that my life was pretty suburbia.  Sure my parents split when I was 10, and both remarried but that is seemingly pretty normal these days…right?

Yet, in between the lines of a storybook childhood there were moments, days, and years, riddled with fear, heartache, and brokenness in my heart and in and throughout my entire family.

What really was going on for the majority of my high school and college life was a life where my father abused alcohol and drugs.  My holidays were filled with broken promises, dad simply not showing up, or showing up under the influence.  Intervention after intervention and nothing would stick longer than a few months.  Memories upon memories of living with my dad in the summer and him disappearing for days at a time only to return home shirtless, shoeless, without a car or dime to his name.

Over and over again my heart was broken; it got to a point where it felt like such a bloody mess that I decided no one could come near.  I decided that my heart was not worth fighting for because if it was then my daddy would stop using.  If I was worth it, he would do whatever it took because he loved me, because he loved my sisters and brother.  But nothing I ever did was ever enough.

I tried finding my worth in grades, in sports, in boys, and later on men, and nothing quite answered my question:  am I worth it?  Am I beautiful?  Am I lovable?  Am I enough?

Near the end of my college career I mourned the death of my father.  Even though he was still alive he was light years away from living.  I watched him go from being a successful business man to a homeless man on the streets of Dallas who lost everything and everyone that was precious to him.  I lost all hope that he would ever be sober on this side of life.

Then something miraculous happened.

Over my senior year of college my Dad got sober. I could hardly believe the transformation that was taking place before my eyes.  He started calling me everyday to let me know he was sober, in a program, was living a life surrendered to God, and that he loved me.  This went on for months.  I begged him to stop calling, told him I did not want him in my life and that my heart could not handle another heart break.

But my father persisted nonetheless, and looking back I needed him to pursue me during that time.  My wounded heart needed to know my father loved me, and would do whatever it takes to restore a relationship with me and my brother and sisters.

And he did just that.

What seemed like an irreparable situation was repaired.
What seemed impossible was more than possible.
What was broken is now fixed.
What was death is now abundant life.

My dad is almost 8 years sober now, and has a redeemed and beautiful relationship with each of his children.  He is one of the greatest heroes of my life.

Through this immense pain in my family I have learned about hope, identity, value, redemption, forgiveness, and the reality that love is messy!

So much has transpired in my heart, in my family and throughout our lives over the last 8 years.  I have come to believe the message in my soul that I am to share with the world is that there is HOPE!   My question of worth has been answered:  I am enough, I am beautiful, I am worth the fight…and guess what:  so are YOU!

My message is for young women to know their value, and their unimaginable beauty and worth.  That I, we, as women are beautiful and of infinite value because of WHO we are not WHAT we are.

My vehicle for this message is photography and my lifestyle blog.  I am a voice to my family, to my community, to the world that love actually does win.  That beauty is more than skin deep.  I want to change the way we as a culture view beauty.  I want to see diverse women on the covers of magazines, I want to see young ladies chasing their dreams with reckless abandon.  I want my story to ignite fire inside the hearts of young people that your story, who you are, where you have been, where you are going matters!

We live in a world full of damage and heartache, but I believe that truth sets people free and story changes lives.  Take heart, and have hope for I believe nothing in this universe is so dark, so lost, so broken that it cannot be repaired.

We are a resilient creation, teaming with hope.  So go ahead…share your voice.  The world needs you.

Monochromatic Mondays | Blue for You…

"Blue is the new black".

-says The Refined Woman.

S is for Summer

                     "All who wander are not lost…"~J.R.R. Tolkein

There could not be a more true statement in my life right now that my should resonates so deeply with.

It may have felt a bit quiet on the blog the last month; it’s not that I have wanted to be distant; it is that I am fighting for presence and balance in my life.  To be fully present, to live connected in each moment at hand…now that is a task that is a grand one for me!

Over the last month I have had some extraordinary adventures:

  • My 21 year old sister graduated UT in Austin, and I got to visit her for a few days + experience how truly amazing Austin is…I could definitely live there!
  • Then I flew straight to LA for a leadership program I am involved in + spent the weekend in community, growth, and challenge.  
  • I photographed my best friends little sister’s wedding in Dallas.
  • Went wedding dress shopping with one of my best friends in Manhattan.
  • Flew to Big Bear CA. to have a day in the quiet, and stillness doing a ropes course that bonded me together with a community of people more deeply than I ever thought possible.
  • I hired our first ever intern!  Woo-hoo…can’t wait for y’all to meet her!
  • And soooo much more…

I am exhausted, but my soul is in abundance.  I am connected to myself, my family, my community in ways that I am incredibly grateful for.  It’s been almost a month since I’ve slept in my amazing cozy Brooklyn apartment, and I cannot wait go sleep in my little nook, however I look back at the moments over the last month and pinch myself because I cannot believe this is the life I get to lead.

A life of passion, adventure, possibility, romance, depth, authenticity.

My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude.

Jen is one of my best friends.  We worked at Invisible Children together years ago, and now I get to stand next to her at her wedding next month!  My LA girlfriends threw her an amazing bridal shower complete with a mimosa bar, and a flower crown making station!

Oh ya…and then I chopped my hair off!! Ahhh…my dear friend + world changer Rachel Burney (who has cut my hair the last almost 6 years) cut my hair, and I feel like such a sassy, sexy woman!  Rawrrrrrr y’all!

Before heading out to Chicago for my cousin’s wedding last week I got to spend a few lovely moments with Mara.  She is a precious soul, so elegant + feminine!

Let’s be honest…roadtrips are the jam, and I got to road trip with 3 of my 5 siblings to Chicago for my cousin’s wedding.  Two days in the car, meant lots of games, Beyonce dance parties and…

BRAID trains…duh!!! My 13 year old sister Lilly is becoming such a lovely young woman!  She’s getting so big!

Since I’ve been living out of a suitcase for a month I knew I wanted to keep things simple when thinking of what to wear to my cousin’s wedding.  So my go-to JCrew LBD + chunky necklace + red lipstick did the trick!

My cousin Meg basically had my dream wedding on her parents farm outside of Chicago!  The ceremony was quite and intimate, spilling over with love and joy!  And of course corn hole + photo booth + yummy food made the evening even better!

This picture just makes me laugh; it’s all my sisters + we’re trying to figure out how to pose for our PhotoBooth Pic…hahaha  Lots of dynamics going on here!

We danced until the wee hours of the morning, laughed a lot, drank yummy wine, and told stories from growing up together.  My soul was filled to the brim.

Now I’m back in LA for a few days, and have already experienced so many lovely things in the last 24 hours.  Yesterday I got to witness sunrise at Santa Monica pier for the first time with some close friends + then photographed one of my amazing world changing friends Dianna (more to come on her later!)

If you’ve made it this far on today’s post…bravo!  Thank you for connecting with me!

I’m overwhelmed with gratitude at the people God has put in my life + the adventures he continuously allows me to have!  The story that God has for our lives are always infinitely more creative, spontaneous, and adventurous than any we could think up on our own, and I’m so grateful to be on this journey with Him.



KEEP IT SIMPLE | TheWeekend Getaway

         “…life is too short not to wear seersucker in the summer.” 

-Kat Harris

Check out my full Weekend Getaway Article on Verily Magazine today!

Summer is just steps away, and for some of us we’re already in the midst of it!  Summer to me means spontaneity, adventure, eating watermelon that drips down my fingers and usually onto my clothes, impromptu trips, and long dinners outside with friends and loved ones.

My biggest goal when traveling whether for a fun 4-day weekend getaway or a month journey is to: KEEP IT SIMPLE, and here is how I do it!


How many of you ladies like to give yourselves at least 7 options a day for outfits? (Wait…I’m the only one?)  If you are going on a 3 day trip, pack 3 outfits, and allow yourself one extra option.  To keep your clothes from getting wrinkled, pack cotton and jersey knit fabrics that do not wrinkle easily.  Bring items that you can wear multiple ways.  What do I pack for a weekend getaway?  Well…I’m glad you asked! 

  1. Maxi Dress
  2. Seersucker Shorts
  3. White Oxford
  4. Jean Jacket
  5. Gladiator shoes + Wedges
  6. 1-piece bathing suit (modest is hottest!)
  7. Fedora Hat
  8. A chunky bold necklace
  9. Summer Tote to carry it all in!

With less than 10 items you can have a diverse wardrobe for at least 4 days if not more!  Here’s how:

  • The Maxi Dress:  This piece is great with your jean jacket, gladiator sandals, necklace and tote and viola you’re ready to board your plane.  (If you’re brining the Fedora wear that too so it doesn’t get ruined enroute).  Once you arrive to your destination your maxi dress now becomes the perfect beach cover-up!  Grab your suit, some magazines, and sunscreen and hit the beach.  Now it’s time for dinner, and you can glam up your maxi with a chunky necklace, wedges and some red lipstick!  From travel wear, to beach cover-up, to a night out the maxi dress is not only comfortable and feminine, but extremely versatile
  • Seersucker Shorts:  Because it’s summer, and why not?  Again throw on you gladiator sandals and blouse and you’re ready for bike rides on the beach.  Swap out the sandals for wedges, throw on some lipstick and fun jewelry and you’re ready for happy hour (don’t forget your jean jacket…it can get chilly at night!).
  • The White Oxford:  It’s no secret I love a good Oxford, not only for their functionality, but they’re so darn cute.  The Oxford over your one piece with the fedora, gladiator sandals, tote, and you’re ready for the beach.  Throw the oxford over the maxi dress in the afternoon with wedges, fedora, and tote in hand, and you’re ready for an afternoon of exploring the city!  Of course you can wear the oxford with your seersucker shorts, and chunky necklace.  (You can’t get much more preppy than that!).

Overall ladies, be organized, check the weather, and just have lots of fun!…and remember life is too short not to wear seersucker in the summer!

[Seersucker photo by:  Trent Bailey Photography + Panama Hat by:  Preston & Olivia]



Verily Magazine | THE OXFORD


Photos by:  Bekah of Kallima Photography

The Blue Oxford | See the Full Post at:  Verily Magazine

Fun, flirty, classy, elegant, easy, and versatile.

After experiencing my first real East Coast Winter, being a recent city transplant from LA, more than ever I am so grateful for the new life that comes with spring.  From the cherry blossoms to floral skirts to wedges to cocktails on NYC rooftops everything about it is simply magical!  

Sigh…I am falling in love with this city all over again!  With Spring and summer come my favorite seasons to dress!  Full of colors, flow-y skirts, patterns, and the freedom to have lots of fun with your wardrobe!

In preparation for a lovely season, ladies it is time for another wardrobe investment:  the oxford.

Now, I almost can audibly hear a collective yawn from those reading this article right now, but before you dismiss this piece as something only your grandmother would wear please hear me out!

The classic button down oxford is an investment piece well worth its price tag.  Not only will it be worn to office meetings, but will be a constant companion to garden parties during the summer, concerts, coffee dates, and days or nights out with friends.

Whether you’re 16, 29 (and holding), or in your 60s the oxford is a wardrobe essential that will last throughout the seasons and decades of your life.  Fabric quality and fit are essential when choosing an oxford.  Remember ladies quality over quantity, and the best part about investing into staple wardrobe items are their versatility.

Recently I came across the Japanese brand Kamakura that is known for their out of this world quality on men’s shirts.  They developed a women’s line, and their blue oxford has been a new best friend of mine!

Go, go, go, get yourself a quality oxford ladies.  Or dust off the one you have had in your closet, but had no idea how to wear it!  Go on ladies…have some fun, take some chances, and stay classy!



OUTFIT | City Girl


Y’all spring in the city is M A G I C A L!  I simply am smitten, and my soul is melting.  Spring is the season of new life, of rebirth, and with my first experience of a true East Coast winter (#polarvortex) I see spring with whole new eyes.

There is so much gratitude in my heart for the sun, for walking out of the shaded side of the buildings into the sunlight; it’s a new day.  A new season filled with hope, longing, desire, and most importantly action.

My quiet dreams of winter are now compelled into action with the birth of Spring.

I feel like a new person friends, and we’re only a few weeks into this magnificent season!

I cannot wait to share more with you about the dreams + visions of my life that are  being activated with the coming of Spring.

Get ready folks.  I’m back.






Photos by:  Chaz Cruz

OUTFIT | Tailor Made

Y’all I am a changed woman; it was 48 degrees the past three days + it was glorious.  With the snow melted and the sun out this city truly comes alive!

Sunday afternoon my friend and I walked through Central Park for hours before walking to church; it was heavenly.  

Most of today I spent inside on my taxes (ugh…April is coming up fast friends!), but I made sure to leave time for a run at Prospect Park.  I was beginning to truly doubt my affections for this city over the past 2 months (a.k.a the Polar Vortex nightmare!), but the past few days reminded me how much beauty, energy, and life take place in New York.  

Now switching gears.  Today really belongs to the tale of conquering my most coveted Ralph Lauren Blazer.  Le’sigh.  I adore this blazer.

My friend purchased this same blazer probably about two years ago.  As soon as she took it out of the bag, my mouth was watering.  The gold buttons + the Ralph Lauren crest + not to mention it is navy blue (which is my black!).  I hunted this baby down for months with no luck, and then ONE DAY friends.

One day I hopped into TJMaxx to grab something random, and there hanging on the final sale rack for $60 was my blazer.  I may have squealed, and ran over to grab it, only to find that it was two sizes too big.  For an instant I wanted to cry,  but like most every investment piece in my closet it goes straight to the tailor so I figured I’d buy it and my tailor would work her magic.

I had her let out the sleeves 3/4 an in., tuck the sides, and bring in the shoulders a bit.  While having a good tailor can be a bit pricey (it actually cost more to get the blazer tailored than what I paid for it); it is well worth the investment.  Now have a classic blazer that will surpass the trends of the season, and last me for years.

Photos by: F.E Castleberry + I was honored to have him feature this outfit on his wonderful blog Unabashedly Prep (be sure + check it out!).

Ladies (and gentlemen) if you do not have a tailor, you must get one.  Here’s why:

  • I’m 5’10, have a 36 inch inseam (yes you read that correctly…my legs never end) + I have an athletic build.  Unless you are a true sample size (which lets face it, 95% of us aren’t), then the clothes that we buy simply were not created to fit our bodies.  (All ladies should let out a huge sigh of relief at this!)  We all have had those shopping experiences where we leave feeling discouraged that nothing fits quite right, and we feel like something is wrong with us!  (Don’t even get me started on jean shopping!).  However, take heart this is a normal experience when we take into consideration that all of our bodies are different + unless you’re going to put on a one-size-fits-all spandex body suit there’s no way clothes can fit all of our beautiful and unique body types.  We simply have to have the eyes to see which pieces are worth taking right on over to the tailor.
  • Always your investment pieces!  Your super trendy shirt that you bought for $20 or your mass produced denim skinny jeans that were $35 probably aren’t what you’ll be taking to the tailor.  However, that blazer that you want to wear to work, those trousers that you’ll wear for the next 5 years, your winter jacket…yes those are all pieces to take into your tailor to get that perfect fit. 
  • Think of your tailor as an investment.  Your tailor will take a blazer that you could wear for one or two seasons, and make it a blazer to last 20 seasons.   Here in the city I go to Sullivan’s in Manhattan + I went to the same tailor in Newport Beach on 17th st. for almost 4 years.

Happy Tuesday Friends + Cheers to finding your Tailor that is the perfect fit for you! (yes…that pun was actually intended!)



OUTFIT : Made in the 80s

I have to admit that I’ve been coveting all the fabulous winter coats I’ve been seeing… but when I’m moving into a season of life where I’m mostly on the couch and about to hit maternity leave it (oh and it’s almost 70 in California these days … Sorry Kat) it doesn’t make much sense for me to get a new one. 

Usually when I’m feeling the need to shop I do one of two things : try to come up with new ways to wear things I’ve neglected in my own closet or go to the thrift store. Or some days I just need to remember that what I have is already enough. 

I got this fun 80s blazer a while back at the thrift store and as crazy as it is I love the color, and I love how it can punch up a plain white tee and black leggings. Today, I am being challenged to be satisfied with what I have… 

It’s enough. 


You can find my new favorite bag from Clare V. here. I also love it in navy!





xo, Em

Huge thank you to Meg Perotti for snapping these photos for me on our Carmel Getaway! 

OUTFIT: The Old Faithful Trench


Happy Tuesday, and welcome to Polar Vortex Parte Dos here on the East Coast!  As cold as it may be, I am trying to embrace it (I even went sledding last week!), but if I’m being honest it’s been hard.  

What I realized is that I have been fighting the weather.  Each time I go outside I feel as though I’m going to battle, arms up and guarded, anticipating the worst.

Thankfully a dear friend challenged me last week with how I have been handling the weather.  It dawned on me that whether or not I have a good attitude; it will still be cold outside.  (crazy right?)

So I decided that I am going to embrace the cold.  Lean into it.  A few days ago as I was wearing this outfit to run errands out in the city I was so so cold.  I had my head down, hands stuffed into my pockets, and was just thinking about how freezing my feet were, and why didn’t I just wear my snow boots?

And then I paused, took my hands out of my pockets, lifted my head, and started thanking God for the little things.  Like even though it was really cold outside; the sun was beautiful.  I was grateful that I had a really warm scarf on and a water proofed trench coat.  I was grateful for the guy in Soho who sold me a beanie for $3.50.  He literally made my day.  I was grateful for the subway for taking me into Manhattan, and that I didn’t have to walk there (can you imagine)? 

And as the moments past; it was like I walked out of a fog into the sunshine that was always there.

Yes; it’s ok to have hard days, and to not love 15 degree weather, but I want to be grateful for where I am at, and find joy even in the tiniest of moments throughout my days.  

I want to be rooted.

I want to embrace today and the gifts that it holds, instead of being frustrated for the way that things aren’t.  (Is anyone with me on this?)


Now onto my outfit, which I just love (if I do say so myself), because it’s just so me.  My Warby Parker Ripley glasses are just so fun, and I love that I can just pop into their storefront in Chelsea if I need anything.  (Their customer service is stellar!)

Em wrote for Darling Magazine last week, and talked about the importance of investments.  (You know we love investment pieces!).  The trench coat was in her top 5 investment pieces, and I couldn’t agree more.  I love how this trench has a feminine flare to the bottom!

Ladies we’ll say it every day:  quality over quantity.  Invest into a good tan trench.  You’ll have it in your closet for the next 20 years.  Look for a trench that has waxed canvas so that you’ll stay nice + dry on those rainiest of days!







Photos by:  Chaz Cruz

Alright ladies.  Thanks for reading my thoughts about life and the weather, and trying to embrace the present!  Y’all are wonderful to let me process this!



OUTFIT : A Carmel Getaway

The past few days I’ve been on a little getaway with some lovely photographer girlfriends … it’s been our most relaxed trip to date. Maybe it’s that we are getting older, but I think we are really starting to appreciate the art of doing nothing. 

When life and work can be so busy, it’s such a joy to be able to sit around, cook and eat meals together, talk about our lives, and that. is. it. It’s everything. I’m especially appreciating it as I begin to count down the weeks until little Miss baby makes her debut… officially 9 weeks and 4 days to go…

This afternoon we ventured out of our little rental house oasis and strolled downtown Carmel. It is unseasonably warm. I had many other layers prepared for this outfit but let’s be real, when it’s 80 degrees in January what is the point. Ah, California. 




Beautiful Carmel…




Many thanks to my dear friend Gladys Jem for snapping a few of these in the middle of our shopping trip. You’re a gem, my friend!

xo, Em