The Refined Woman

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The Refined Man Is…Mentorship

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Juvan Langford is a Refined Man.

From the first moment I saw Juvan, I knew he was a leader.  Every pore of his body exudes leadership; it is just who he is.  He envisions a world where leaders create other leaders, where older men and women invest into the next generation of world changers.  He is committed to living a life of purpose.

This is a man that you want to know, because my friends he is going places.  He has a great Youtube Channel called Thought Life, and has many more projects in line to make this world a better place.

Now…say hello to my friend Juvan!

XO,

Kat

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Mentorship saved my life. My maternal grandmother legally adopted me at age 4 and I’ll never forget the day the adoption papers were officially signed. She sat my sister and I down on the couch and told us, “your father is with God in heaven and your mother has gone to get some help and so you’re both staying with me. Grandma is not going anywhere.” Although I had not fully comprehended the significance of that event, I did trust that Grandma was going to be there, no matter what. Interestingly enough, two decades have passed and that is exactly how I would define a mentor, a no matter what.

Mentorship is by far the most undervalued gift one person can give to another. If I were to paint a portrait to further illustrate this idea, the world would be one big room. On one side of the room there would be a large number of young people standing tall, but empty. On the other side you would see wise and seasoned individuals sitting, but filled with information.

Information is the only thing standing between where someone is right now in his or her life and wherever it is that they desire to be. It’s not that the young people don’t have dreams, goals and visions within them, they certainly do. It’s that the young people are not taking a seat and the wise ones are not taking a stand. It’s fair to say that this is not a problem, it’s the problem.

One of my most memorable mentorship relationships is with a phenomenal man I call, Pops. He was the father of one of my friends who offered me a ride home after football practice in junior high. He was aware of the fact that all was not well with me and offered to take me to hear me out over a bite to eat that evening. That was the most empowering conversation I had ever had with any man. He told me he believed in me, that I was bigger than my circumstances and that he was committed to being there for me, no mater what. Since that day he has not only kept his word but pours into me daily. My relationship with Pops provided me with an innerstanding™ that mentors are not meant to be looked up to for the answers, but looked into for wisdom.

The beauty lies in the fact that we are raised and surrounded by people who are carriers of information. I am certain that without the succession of mentors, who continuously stood for me, I would have entered into a life filled with obstacles. Mentorship is relational currency, an unapologetic exchange of support and resources between two individuals who recognize that the getting in the giving. This is precisely why it is my personal mission is to not only embody mentorship in my personal life, but also create a virtuous cycle of mentors around the globe. Deep and meaningful relationships are a essential, however, I am committed to shedding light on the power of mentorship to the extent that every child grows up with a “no matter what.”

-Juvan

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Photos by me:  Kat Harris

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.

XO,

K

Beauty Is…Multidimensional

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“Hi, my name is Jenna and I am a fine art wedding photographer.” 

Often times when meeting someone new, the first thing we ask them is “what they do.”  This conversation leads to work talk over life talk and they usually walk away only knowing one tiny piece of the puzzle that makes you, you. But I am here to proclaim that who we are is not what we do. 

When I lead with that you only get to know that one tiny aspect of my life and the conversation is so focused on what we do that we never get to the part where we talk about who we are at the core of our being

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Sure, I shoot photographs for a living but that doesn’t touch on the fact that I am a loving wife, a puppy mom, a Christ follower, a watercolor artist, a lover of sour gummy worms, and an advocate for yoga pants. I allow people to form their opinion of me based on what I do to make a living and in turn they fails to see the rest of the beauty in my life. I am truly convinced that beauty is multifaceted and cannot be defined by what we do but by who we are (on the inside and out.) 

They say that time is money, but to me, time is life

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(Check our instagram today to win this print friends!)

What we spend our days doing are what we spend our life doing and I want to fill each day with as much beauty as I can possibly muster. 

Beauty is multifaceted. What do I mean by this? I mean that we can’t define it with one word or characteristic. It exudes from within and is something that each and every person has, whether or not they choose to recognize it. 

It starts on the inside and works it way into every aspect of our lives – should we allow it to. Defining beauty with one word is cutting the true meaning of it short, just like defining a human by what they do to make a living isn’t an accurate way to learn who they truly are. 

One question I ask every client is “What in life are you most passionate about?” I don’t care if they are a barista or a nurse, a mechanic or an engineer. I want to know what makes your heart beat fast, what fires you up about life, what makes your soul shine – because when people talk about their passions, they glow and the world is filled with more beauty.

Beauty is multi dimensional. 

It isn’t described through one adjective, and it encompasses who we are deep down into our soul. It is finding your passion and chasing it with reckless abandon so that the world is filled with people who have come fully alive with joy. Beauty is being proud that we are more than the title of our job, and beauty is sharing that truth with others. When we talk about what we love and when we do the things that make us happy, we are proving that there is more beauty out there when it is unconfined. 

Let your joy be unconfined, re-define beauty by not jumping to conclusions, judging from appearances, or allowing yourself to be confined by one sentence that tells people absolutely nothing about your soul. 

You are multifaceted and brilliant and beautiful – share that with the world. 

XO,

Jenna

 Photos by:  Life Tree Photography

Print by:  Jenna Kutcher

Life is a Beautiful Sport

To love is to risk, and to risk is to love.

My dear friend Elizabeth shared this Lacoste commercial with me a few weeks ago, and it stopped my breath.  There is so much truth and beauty portrayed in this campaign.

To put myself out there, to risk, to share my soul with another person can feel excruciating.  The thought of someone seeing my heart and not wanting it or rejecting it seems almost unbearable at times.

What it can feel like is as though I am jumping off a giant cliff, and am plummeting to a concrete finish, alone, rejected, dead.

Love is terrifying, yet love is one of the greatest adventures of our lives, and it is such an intentional choice.  

To choose love it to choose truth, courage, vulnerability.  To choose love is a risk, because you are risking pain, hurt, and loss.  

When I am caught in fear it’s as though I am blind.  I lose the ability to see that love is actually all around me.  That even if I risk love and lose it; it will not destroy me. 

Love never leads to death.  Love always leads to life.

And to truly live one must love.  Without love I merely exist paralyzed by my own fear.  Yet, when I take that giant leap into the unknown what I find is that I met in the free fall.  

In fact I am not falling to my death at all, and I am absolutely not alone.  It is at the point of choosing the risk to love that I am truly alive.  Instead of falling to my death I soar, fly, am empowered, and the love that I was so scared to give is met by love.

LOVE:  the very thing that I long for the most is at my fingertips, I just need to take that first step.

To me this commercial embodies all of this tension:  love, risk, vulnerability, fear, life, passion.  This man feels the risk of putting his heart out there to this woman, and it feels like he is risking everything.  Yet once he takes that initial step he love is met with love.

You see when we’re free, we set other people free.

When we love others, we set them free to love; it’s contagious.

So risk, love, live.  We were created to thrive abundantly, not to merely survive.

The choice is ours.  Life is a beautiful sport.

XO,

Kat

B E A U T Y is…Messy.

(Brooklyn Bridge with coffee in tow yesterday.  Check out the video I made on Instagram.)

Last year I was walking on Crystal Cove Beach with a friend, and she told me about a phrase her and her husband use with each other.  They use it when they see that the other is heading towards a bad decision, or in confession of their own mistakes.  They simply say, “HALT”.

Halt.  Are you…

H-hungry

A-angry

L-lonely

T-tired

Most of our poor choices, mistakes, those moments when we really blow it come from a place where we are experiencing one or more of those things.  Most of the conflict I had with my old boss happened when one of us was hungry; it almost became a joke between us.  We’d start getting really annoyed with one another, and then ask…hey are you hungry?  More often than not the answer was yes!  When I’m hungry I get short, irritable, and foggy headed.  (Note to my future husband:  if I start getting really cranky, it’s probably because I just need some food in me!)

One thing I have noticed since being out here in Brooklyn is life has felt just a little more messy than usual.  

My boundaries with friendships (specifically guy friendships) have felt wobbly.  My desire to people please has been much higher than normal, and I have felt more insecure my photography than I have in a long time.  Out of this place I have blown it more than a few times.  Whether by being rude to an innocent bystander on the subway, or over sharing parts of my life with someone I hardly know, or not guarding my heart fully in some guy friendships I have.

This week I had a meltdown with a girlfriend…what is wrong with me?  why do I feel so insecure and unsure of myself? Why am I blowing it in areas where I usually don’t?  When is this going to stop???

And then a little voice inside me so graciously said HALTAre you:  hungry, angry, lonely, or tired?

The past few months of moving has involved change and transition beyond what I expected:  getting acquainted to a new life, new city, new roomates, new career, new transportation, new culture, new church, pretty much new everything.  

As exciting as it has been; it’s been lonely and exhausting at times.

Patiently and sweetly my dear friend reminded me that life is messy, and that no…it won’t always feel this way, and that there is a multitude of grace to cover my mess-ups and mistakes.

Everything feels new, I’m out of my comfort zone, I’m a little lonely, but you know what?  That’s ok, because life is messy and within that I find beauty.

BEAUTY is…B E C O M I N G

Photo by:  Kat

I am, but I am not yet.  Daily, I live in this tension of growth of becoming.

I am becoming a woman who..

moves closer each day to the woman I was designed and created to be.

is grounded in her identity and value.

speaks truth even when it is difficult.

chooses discipline not for the sake of legalism, but for the sake of freedom.

realizes the risk and terrifying vulnerability of truly being known by others, yet walks forward boldly towards community.

is filled with dignity.

admits when she is wrong.

graciously forgives, and does not hold grudges.

speaks life with her words.

pursues greatness instead of goodness.

I am not all of these things, only some.  But with each breath, with each step forward I am becoming the woman I was destined to be.

XO,

Kat

B E A U T Y is…F E A R L E S S

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At some point in our lives we get fearful.

We start caring what other people think of us, we avoid pain (physical and emotional) at any cost, and it stops us from greatness.  

A 401k plan and job security become more attractive than reaching boldly for your dreams.  (Anyone with me on that one, or is it just me?)  It used to be that a paycheck didn’t matter to me if I didn’t truly believe in what I was doing.  Was I young and an idealist?  Of course, but I think perhaps there was something more going on there.

Remember when you were a little girl, and you didn’t have a care in the world?  

When I was a little I felt invincible. 

In the summertime I remember riding my bike all day long, for hours.  There was this big hill just outside of our neighborhood that ended in a cul-de-sac.  On hot summer days I would ride my bike barefoot and full speed down that hill, and I would see I long I could close my eyes before I got to the end of the hill.  Looking back on that memory I am surprised I didn’t break all of my limbs, and my grown-up self is a little shocked at my stupidity.  BUT more than that I look back to that little girl and see someone who is fearless.

Without fear we have utter freedom.  Have you ever been around someone that walks in total freedom?  Like a freedom that is all encompassing, and is birthed from the depth of who this person is?  It’s contagious.

What would our friend group, our work space, our city, our culture, our world look like if we said no to fear and yes to freedom?

I think the world would be a magical and beautiful place, because true beauty is fearless.

XOXO,

Kat

INSPIRATION: Be Free.

Since I was a child I have always wanted to be further along than my current state.  In high school I wanted to be in college, in college I just wanted to be done with school, when I started learning photography I just wanted to be shooting for JCrew within 6 months of picking up a camera, now I want 50,000 hits a day on a blog that is fairly new.

We all long for freedom.

I think I’ll feel more free when I am further along creatively, further along in my relationships, further along in my career, further along in my fitness goals.  

With each step I take, the freedom I long for seems to be yet another step ahead.  So I chase it haphazardly like Peter Pan chases his shadow with no real success.

You see freedom is not cheap.  Isn’t it interesting that some of the most freeing moments of our lives come after seasons of intense discipline and hard work.  

We all ache for the euphoric feeling of crossing the finish line, but few and far between do the diligent, exhaustive work that it requires to run a successful race.

I want to be more free creatively in my photography, BUT in order to experience that freedom I must have an intense resolve to master my craft and equipment technically.

I want success and freedom within The Refined Woman, BUT that means Em and I must be committed to challenging one another and creating consistent and unique content for a long period of time.

With freedom comes resolve, and with resolve comes discipline, and with discipline comes those moment by moment almost insignificant decisions that over time will lead to greatness.

Be great.

Be disciplined.

Be resolved.

Be free.

XOXO,

Kat

INSPIRATION : Perspective

This is my little family. I love them with all my heart. 

But I don’t always act like it.

With my actions, I act like my phone is my life. That email is the most important part of my day. I am constantly struggling to stop opening instagram and facebook to see what’s happening out there in social media land. 

I read something this week that helped put into words a desire of my heart that has been brewing. The desire to put down my phone and LIVE my life. But sometimes I feel trapped by it because in and of itself it’s not “bad.” It’s not bad to want to be good at my job, or encourage other people in the things they are doing and posting. 

But it’s a fine line and one that some days feels like it is leading me to ruin. It’s really an issue of my heart - what do I think gives me worth and value? If I’m being honest some days I’m looking for my worth there, in these tangible numbers that truthfully mean nothing.  

I don’t want to live my life for “likes” and I more than anything I want to live a story worth telling. 

I want to be fully present in the relationships I have right in front of my face. 

It’s a moment by moment practice, and one that I’m refocusing on. Today. Right now.

It’s worth it.

xo

Em