The Refined Woman

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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…





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.


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.



B E A U T Y is…F E A R L E S S


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.




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.



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.



INSPIRATION: You Are More Beautiful…


Me. Make-up Free after Yoga yesterday via my iPhone.

"You are more beautiful than you think" -Dove Campaign

I consider myself a pretty confident woman, but it’s amazing to me how differently I feel without make-up.

In the Bible God talks about the world before sin entered into it.  He said man and woman lived together naked and without shame.

That statement boggles me.  Naked.  Without shame.  

To me walking out of my house without make-up on I feel naked and exposed.  Not quite as pretty, not quite as confident, just not quite.  

You get to see pictures of me on this blog, but they’re pictures that I choose that I like, and taken by women who are professional photographers that know how to make their subject look good (and I am very thankful for them).

What I long for is to feel completely comfortable in my own skin.

I want to love the wrinkles on my forehead, and the tiny crows feet that are beginning to take shape around my eyes.

I want to embrace that I do not have a small frame, and I probably never will.

I want to hold onto the statement that I am more beautiful than I think.

You see, if I’m being honest…sometimes I want you to think I have it all together, that I roll out of bed perky with no bags under my eyes.

But that’s not attainable for me…and it’s probably not attainable for you either.  

My value, your value does not change when we put that mascara on our eyes or that lipstick on our lips.  I am of value and esteem just because I am a human, and so are you.  

Nothing can change your value.

You are loved.  You are unique.  You are precious.

You are more beautiful than you think.


This week has been full of adventures. Here’s what has been keeping me occupied…


NYC: I mean when is it not on my mind?
Vampire Weekend: in anticipation of their new album, I’ve been listening to them non-stop. (Listen to Diane Young now…baby baby baby)


LA LookBook: this is a sneak of my latest LookBook shoot for LA Shoe company Olivia Childs


#YOLO: Life is far too short to have it consumed with work. I got to hike with old friends and experience an amazing sunset. 
I’m thankful. 
For life. 
For friendships. 
For good music. 
For moments of stillness. 
Happy Friday.



INSPIRATION: Finding Stillness in the Chaos


Photo by:  Kat Harris

Some days, let me try and be a bit more honest…most days I feel as though I am treading water.  Rapidly swirling my tired legs and arms in the stormy waters I feel as though I can hardly get air.

It is exhausting.  I am exhausted.  

For the past year I’ve been a major ‘Yes’ person.  

Any opportunity big or small, paid or per gratis, I’ve taken with the hopes.  

With the hopes of something greater, the next door opening, the next great adventure, and it’s been amazing.  I’ve experienced things in the last year that I didn’t know that I would ever experience.  I don’t regret saying Yes to so many things.

Sometimes though, and today feels like one of those days that I just want to say no.

With the abundance of Yes’ this last year, there have been a lot of no’s.  No to community, no to rest, no to family, no to balance.  This Good Friday I want to say No.

No to the emails. 

No to keeping up.

No to social media.

No to meetings.

No to anxiety.

No to fear about the future.

No to the what ifs.

Yes is good, but I think the lesson I may be learning is that sometimes no is greater.

Deep down inside I long for balance, and truly I believe our souls ache for it.  Today I challenge you to turn off the social media, finish emails early, and sit.



Take a nap.

Breathe deeply.

Find stillness in the chaos.