Letting Hope Rise

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Well hello there! I can’t believe another year has passed and it’s already time again for my annual birthday post.  If you guys have been following along with me for a while, then you know I’ve walked through some pretty challenging trials in the last few years.  I wrote this post on my birthday last year, sharing some lessons I had learned while picking up the pieces of my life, and about being challenged by God to start living and dreaming again.  And so, this past year will be forever be marked as the year that I not only started to allow myself to dream again, but also the year I started to let hope rise.

To be honest, after existing in survival mode for so long, it was definitely a scary thing to step out and push myself to really start living again.  But I wholeheartedly believe that hoping and dreaming are two things essential to finding joy and cultivating a truly beautiful life.  What I’ve also found, is that they too, can open the door for more potential hurt, heartache, and disappointment.  And let me tell you, that has been a pretty major wrestle for me.  So as I’ve been writing this post and thinking about what I wanted to share in this space today, and what I’m taking away from this past year, it would be that despite the hurts and disappointments I’ve encountered, opening myself up again has absolutely been worth it. I’ve grown even stronger in the hard places, learned more about empathy, and maybe most importantly, it’s what has allowed me to push forward, moving closer towards the life I’ve always wanted for myself.

So with that said, in traditional birthday post fashion, here are the lessons I’ve learned that I wanted to share.  And in doing so, my hope would be that something in this post would resonate with someone out there who is needing to read these words today.

  1. Opening your heart is worth the risk. Part of me can’t believe I’m saying this, because if I’m being totally honest, there were a lot of moments this past year where I wished I hadn’t opened myself up again. Wished that I wouldn’t have let romance back in.  Wished that I hadn’t been so trusting of new friendships and people in my life.  Wished that I wouldn’t have made certain changes in my life that I did. Wished that I hadn’t allowed myself to dream for the things that I wanted that didn’t work out. In fact, there were even times I felt angry at myself for doing so.  But as I’ve worked through the hurt that’s come from some of these experiences, I can also look back more objectively and see the incredible lessons and the growth.  And I fully believe we don’t get anywhere in life by playing it safe.  Because all of these moments, the good and the bad, are propelling us forward, ultimately helping to shape us into better more compassionate people if we let them
  2. Things don’t happen to us, they happen FOR us.  I was recently at an event and heard this phrase and it really struck a chord with me.  I think living in grief and trial, it can sometimes feel easy to fall into the role of a victim.  But allowing yourself to process and grow through the pain can really create space for us to realize our full potential, and find strength and purpose within ourselves we didn’t know that we had.  I have grown in ways that I never would have without the pain and loss I’ve encountered.  And I’m proud of that, because it’s made me a much better person.  Even though it’s hard and can sometimes feel impossible, the times that feel like they will break us, can actually refine us if we let them.
  3. Trust your instincts. After walking through so many years of lies and betrayal, getting back in touch with trusting myself has been one of the more challenging journeys for me this past year.   And deciphering my fears from my gut instincts has definitely come with a learning curve.  But I am finding over and over, if something feels off, it probably is.  If we feel like we shouldn’t do something, then we shouldn’t. If someone is giving us a bad vibe, then there is probably a reason. Our bodies have this incredible ability to sense things, especially as women.  So when something in your gut feels off, trust that.
  4. There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind. This is my favorite quote by C.S. Lewis. And when I pause to think about it, it really allows the hope to rise up in me.  Because isn’t it beautiful to know there are better days ahead?  Happy memories we’ve yet to make? And incredible people we’ve yet to meet?  Our lives might carry within them a lot of sorrow and hard times, but those will always be beautifully intertwined with so much joy and happiness. I am truly believing the best is yet to come.  For all of us.
  5. Choose JOY. I’ve thought about this so much over the past year, because at the end of the day, our happiness is really up to us.  And having joy in our lives is something we can control, a choice we make daily.  Now don’t get me wrong, I know this can be incredibly challenging, and there are still many days where I fail to choose joy.  But the more aware I’ve become that having joy in my life is a choice I can make, the more intentional I am about pursuing it.  Whether it’s saying something nice to myself, reminding myself how blessed I am, or writing down something I’m grateful for, I’ve found recognizing anything positive helps to create this shift.  Even if it’s just one thing you can find joy in every day, it’s a starting place.
  6. You are enough. If you keep up with me on Instagram, then you know that “enough” is my word for the year.  In the fall out of losing my marriage to my partner’s sex addiction, it made me question every single thing about me, both physically and personally.  The trauma of it all left me feeling completely unworthy, that I was not and am not enough.  And with that also came the burdens of fear and shame.  As I’ve been working to heal from those things, I think one of the hardest parts has been realizing that I am not alone in those feelings.  That we all feel inadequate, or unworthy in some ways.  Whether it’s that we feel we are not doing our part, that we aren’t good enough, or pretty enough, or successful enough, or smart enough. We have been conditioned by society to believe these lies and run ourselves ragged trying to be enough, when in fact we already are.  Because the truth is, there is no one else like us on the planet.  We are all unique with an individual call on our lives.  No one else can do what we can do, or be who we are destined to be. We were each beautiful and wonderfully made.

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Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your unwavering encouragement.  I am so grateful for all of the messages and comments.  I truly think of you all as my friends and am forever grateful.  So with that, here’s to a new year, new adventures, new lessons, and most importantly, continued growth towards becoming the person God intended for me to be.  Cheers to 38!

 

Love you all!  xoxo

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Picking Up the Pieces

 

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On my birthday last year, I remember being at home alone, sitting in the dark on my brand new pink couch in my brand new house, and crying. It was not the way I had envisioned starting out the 36th year of my life, alone and grieving the loss of my 10-year marriage that had been ripped apart by my partner’s sex addiction, and crippled by a head injury that I suffered from a horrible head-on collision on my way to the gym 4 months earlier. Nothing in my life was the way I thought or dreamed it would be. In fact, it felt like everything I had worked for, and invested in, and believed in had been taken away from me. And there I was, turning 36, in the middle of starting my life completely over again.

I shared this post with you guys on that day last year, talking about the things I had learned walking through the most difficult season of my life, and how I survived. But as I wrote those words, what I didn’t fully anticipate, was not only how incredibly hard, but how incredibly wonderful the upcoming year was going to be. And as I sit here today looking back, there is so much I am thankful for.  It has been a year full of so much growth, but also one filled with immeasurable sorrow. There were times when I felt like the old me again, and times when I didn’t recognize myself at all. The tears were plenty, but so were laughter and joy. Adventure and travel started to find their ways back into my life, but I often found myself wanting to be alone more than I ever had before. My friendships continued to grow steadfast and deep, but I also learned it was ok to keep my inner circle small. I experienced times where I’ve never felt so loved, and also times where I couldn’t fathom feeling any more alone. There were days it felt too hard to face the world, and days I knew I was going to be ok. I grew braver, and stronger, and more compassionate, but also felt myself turn inward at times, becoming more introverted, quiet and shy. But through it all, as I’ve picked up the pieces and kept moving forward, one thing is and has remained good and constant in my life, and that is God.

And so, in typical birthday blog-post fashion, I wanted to take some time to reflect, and share with you guys the things I’ve learned this past year, as I continue to figure out how to navigate this big, beautiful, sometimes heartbreaking life, and what I’m looking forward to as I embark on year 37:

1. The world will break us all at some point, but how we come out on the other side is our choice. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt completely defeated by the events of the last couple of years. It’s definitely felt easier at times to the let the bitterness and sadness win. But I made a choice and a promise to myself early on, that I was going to fight for me and fight for happiness. And while sometimes it’s a lot of work, it’s still a choice I’m making every single day.  The fight for ourselves is worth it.  YOU are worth it.

2. Grief is a process, and it’s different for everyone. We place a lot of expectations in our society around how things “should” be, including grief and loss. But I’ve learned there isn’t a standard way to walk through loss. My brother has a lyric in one of his songs that says: “grief is like a storm; the power comes in waves.” And in my grief, these words often echo in my head. Sometimes I feel so happy, and then before I realize what’s happening, I’m back in the thick of things. And it’s definitely been a process to find patience and grace for myself as I learn to navigate what grief and healing look like for me.

3. Surround yourself with people who will truly do life with you. I am so fortunate to not only have an amazingly supportive family, but also incredible friends who are my “framily”. They aren’t afraid of my grief process, they love me through the hurt, they understand when I need to be alone, they see the good in me when I can’t, they celebrate break through, they fight for me, and they cheer me on every step of the way. I’ve never experienced friendship on this level before, and I am so very grateful for and humbled by the love, and work, and vulnerability we all pour into one another. They have been the game changers in my life these last couple of years and I am forever grateful.

4. If life doesn’t turn out the way you hoped it would, you can still find happiness. This has been one of the most challenging and important lessons for me in all of this. While my life doesn’t look anything like I thought it would right now, it is still filled with so much goodness. From family, to rich friendships, to opportunities and experiences I’ve opened myself up to this year, a successful career, a beautiful home, etc. I am so very fortunate. And truth be told, I wouldn’t have a lot of the amazing things I have in my life right now, if I hadn’t experienced the trials. God will make beauty from ashes, if we let Him. I can promise you that. (Genesis 50:20)

5. Trust in God’s plan for your life. When I look back at the trajectory of my life, the plans that were laid, the timing, the pieces that have fallen into place, I can’t help but to trust what God is doing. And while getting from point A to point B might not be the way I envisioned it to be, I am trusting in God’s purpose, surrendering to His plan for me, and valuing the lessons I am learning along the way. And I can tell you, that makes the day to day a lot easier to get through, resting in that trust. (Isaiah 26:3)

6. Dream BIG. If you follow me on Instagram, you might know that my word for the year is “dream”. When I began the process of rebuilding my life last year, I had been in survival mode for so long, that it felt scary and impossible to hope and dream for anything. But not having hopes and dreams left me feeling such a huge void, because those things have always been such a big part of who I am. So as I kick off this year, I am working on letting myself hope and dream for the future, not being afraid to ask God for the things I want, and being ok if those hopes and dreams don’t necessarily work out the way I want them to. A lot can change and happen in a year, so here’s to 37 and everything that it will bring!! (Jeremiah 29:11)

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I also just wanted to say thank you guys so much for stopping by the blog today. I know it’s been a long time since I shared any content here. As you can probably tell from this post, it’s been a busy year for me. But it feels good to be back in this space, and I am actually planning on relaunching my blog in the near future (it’s all part of that hoping and dreaming thing). So definitely stay tuned for more details. But in the meantime, THANK YOU. TRULY. You all have been such an incredible support to me these last couple of years and I will be forever grateful to each and every single one of you for the continued love and encouragement.

 

xoxo,

Abby

Stars and Stripes

Wow.  It’s been a hot minute since I’ve put up a new blog post.  To be honest, life has been crazy busy the last couple of weeks, and I just needed a bit of a break.  But it feels great to be back today and I am so excited to be bringing you a little outfit inspiration for the 4th of July!!!  Can you believe that the 4th is less than one week away?  I know I can’t.  For me, the 4th of July will always be the official kick off to summer, and I can’t wait to celebrate all weekend long!!

Top (DownEast Outfitters, check in store), also love this, this, this, this, and this | Shorts | Necklace | Hat | Sunnies | Platforms, also love these

Thank you guys so much for stopping by!  Hope you’re having a great week!

xoxo,

Abby

 

Old Faithful

This skirt is something that I’ve had in my closet for a few years now.  And every summer, I get excited to pull it out because even though it isn’t new, it’s still a favorite piece.  I love the high-low silhouette, and pretty gauzy material, the color, and how it moves.  Plus, it’s surprisingly easy to style multiple ways, which makes it not only a favorite, but a great summer staple too.  I linked some really similar options below for you guys below. But I’d love to know, do you have a favorite item in your closet you love to wear over and over again?

Skirt (old) similar, similar, similar, similar, similar | Top | Necklace | Sunnies | Bag | Heels

Hope you guys are having a great week!  Thank you so much for stopping by!

xoxo,

Abby

 

Castaway

I love a good palm print.  So when I saw this dress in the Cabi spring line, I knew it had to be mine.  It’s such an easy fit and a great piece to dress up or down.  In fact, I can’t wait to pair it with some gold sandals and a panama hat when the weather warms up a little!  Also, in case you missed it yesterday, here is a sneak peek at Cabi’s new Fall line.  Everything is SO good, but I am especially obsessing over that long plaid coat!

Dress (cabi c/o) | Jacket | Necklace (old, just ordered this) | Sunnies | Clutch (similar under $50) | Heels (on sale!)

Cheers to the weekend, sweet friends!

xoxo,

Abby

Spring Trends

I am wearing four of my favorite trends for Spring and Summer in today’s outfit post: destroyed denim, an off-the-shoulder top, platform sandals, and round sunglasses.  And while I’ve been playing around with the first three trends for quite some time now, I just recently purchased my first pair of round sunglasses.  And I have so say, I am LOVING them.  In fact, I just ordered a second pair with a gradient lens, as opposed to mirrored and I can’t for them to get here.  I’d also love to know, what are some of your favorite trends for this season?

Top (shein c/o) | Denim (less than $100!) | Hat | Sunnies | Bag | Platforms

Hope you guys are having a great week!  Thank you SO much for stopping by!

xoxo,

Abby

 

Walking Through Adversity

I can’t believe a year has come and gone since I shared this post with you all.  And here I am, celebrating another trip around the sun.  If I’m being fully honest, this has not been a birthday I have been looking forward to celebrating.  In fact, I had planned on skipping it all together.  And while I’m not quite ready to share my full story with you all here on the blog, I did want to dedicate today’s post to sharing what I’ve learned as I’ve walked through adversity.

This past year was the hardest year of my life.  It was filled with grief and loss, hurt and betrayal, a lot of difficult changes, and a violent car accident, that 4 months later, has left me with lingering health issues.  BUT as hard as this past year was, it was also one of the most amazing and fruitful years of my life.  I developed some of the richest friendships I’ve ever had, I was able to spend an exponential amount of time with my family and my niece, I accepted a new job that was created specifically for me,  and I bought a new home that I love.  I also learned a lot of about myself, what it looks like to persevere, and most importantly, deepened my relationship with Jesus.  So with that, here are the lessons I’ve learned that helped to carry me through the difficult days.  And my hope in sharing this, is that it will help some of you:

  1.  Be gentle with yourself.  When you are walking through something difficult, it’s ok that it feels hard, or even impossible.  It’s ok to take the time you need to grieve.  It’s ok if you can’t get out of bed.  And it’s ok to really feel what you need to feel so that you can process it and move on.
  2. Take care of you.  I learned that I was really good at taking care of others, but not nearly as good at taking care of myself.  And it’s been a fun process to discover what it means to put myself first.
  3. Make appointments with your grief.  This was hugely instrumental for me.  Particularly as I was navigating everyday day life and a demanding career. I found that if I could set aside time to grieve, it helped me to hold things together when I needed to, and kept me moving forward in a healthy way.
  4. Let others help you.  This was one of the hardest lessons for me to learn.  I love to do things for other people, but struggled to let other people do things for me.  But once I was in my car accident and couldn’t take care of myself for a little while, I really had no choice.  It felt vulnerable and scary at first, but it was also an incredible experience to let people in and let them love on me (Matthew 5:4).
  5. Vulnerability is beautiful.  It is so important to be vulnerable and share with the right people.  Being totally transparent with my family and closest friends was not only freeing, but was also incredibly healing.
  6. Make sure you are FULLY known by at least one other person in your life.  One of my best friends says this a lot, and it is so true.  Whether it is a spouse, a friend, a parent, make sure there is one person in your life who knows your FULLY.  Darkness breeds darkness, and the enemy preys on isolation, so it’s important that we live fully in the light and are known.
  7. Joy and sorrow can exist in the same space.  While I had a lot of sorrow in my life this last year, it was also mixed with an abundance of joy.  That felt confusing to me at first.  But once I learned it was ok to feel both at the same time, it made it a lot easier to extend myself some grace and banish the guilt (John 16:20).
  8. We are fully equipped to deal with what happens in our lives.  I had heard a sermon about this once, and it really resonated with me.  And as I look back on the last couple of years, and really on my entire life, I can see the plans that God was laying that would allow for me to be prepared, protected, and able to weather this storm. And even more importantly, come out stronger on the other side (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
  9. Lean in.  We are stronger than we think we are if we lean into Jesus.  If someone had told me ahead of time what would happen in my life, I don’t think I would have believed that I’d get through it.  But I did.  And I am a stronger and more compassionate person because of it.  But that is not of my own doing.  It is because I leaned in hard, dug deep into my faith, and trusted fully in His plan for me (Mark 10:27).
  10. You won’t be in the valley forever.  One day last summer, my brother and I were sitting in his kitchen, and he encouraged me not to miss out on any more of my life and what my future could be because I was too afraid to let go of the past and my own plans for my future. And in that moment, I realized that God was giving me the choice to leave the valley and start climbing my way back to the top of the mountain.  That is the path I chose. And while some days it’s still incredibly hard and that loss still feels unbearable, as I embark on this 36th year of my life, I am finding myself in a wonderful, happy new season.  I have been  afforded a fresh start. I have a heart filled with gratitude. I have a life full of people who love and support me. And most importantly, I am enjoying the sweet moments of the present, and eagerly anticipating what is to come.  Ever hopeful and believing in the plan that God has in store for my life (Jeremiah 29:11).  So cheers to another year, and the adventure, love, and happy times to come…

Top | Skirt, similar, similar(obsessed!) | Heels | Sofa | Black and White Pillow | Rug

And I also want to say THANK YOU for all of your love and support along the way.  Love you guys and am SO very grateful for this community.

xoxo,

Abby

Throwback

You know what’s kind of a weird feeling?  When you’re old enough to see certain fashion trends cycle back through your life a second time around.  And right now, with so many great ’90’s trends prevalent for the summer months, that’s exactly what’s happening.  And it’s leaving me feeling both a little nostalgic, and a little old. lol But when I was in high school, denim short overalls and denim overall dresses were my favorite.  So I knew it was a trend I would definitely be revisiting this summer.  And I’d love to know, how are you guys feeling about the ’90’s trends in the market right now?

Off -the-shoulder top | Overall Dress | Choker | Clutch | Sunnies | Platforms

Hope you guys are having a fantastic week!

xoxo,

Abby

Life Update And A Mini Home Tour

Hi friends! Since I’m 4 months post car accident, I thought I’d give you guys a quick life update.

Last week at my appointment with my Neurologist, we decided that because of the progress I’m making, we could move our appointments from once a month, to once every 3 months.  And that I could start seeing my Neuropsychologist monthly instead of weekly.  To me that’s exciting because it not only means that I’m starting to recover faster than they had initially anticipated, but also because I don’t have to go to the hospital nearly as often.

The other exciting thing, is that I was cleared to go back to the gym.  While I still can’t ski or ride my bike, or play any type of impact sport, I did get the clear to try going back to Orange Theory.  If you guys have been following me for a while, then you probably know that fitness is something that’s really important to me.  I started doing Orange Theory about a year ago, and completely fell in love with it.  In fact, at the time of my accident, I was in the best shape of my life.  I was the leanest I’ve ever been, was running close to a 6 minute mile, and could do more push ups than anyone else I know. Ha! If you know me in real life, then this will probably make you laugh, because I am super laid back and have never been a serious athlete or particularly competitive.  Sure, in high school I played varsity tennis and was a cheerleader, but I lettered more times in music than anything else.  And that was my primary focus in college and into early adulthood too.  But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve really enjoyed pushing my limits, and learning what my body is capable of. Whether it’s a half marathon, back country ski-touring, a 130 mile road bike ride, or competing in the Orange Theory games, I’ve really tried to do as much as possible.  In fact, for whatever reason, when it comes to the gym (and my career), I kind of like to go beast mode. In my own quiet/introverted way, of course.

So even though I was really excited to be cleared to go back, I was also nervous, because I didn’t know how my body, or my brain, would react.  But I have to say, I’ve been pleasantly surprised.  Sure, my 6-pack is gone, I felt a little jiggly on the treadmill, and my running pace was much slower.  BUT I didn’t get dizzy or nauseous, and I was able to participate the whole time.  And while I realize I have a long way to go to get back to where I was, during that first class back, I was struck with an incredible gratitude that I still CAN get back to that place.  Because with a little hard work and dedication, and a whole lot of grace, anything is possible.  And as hard as this whole as mess has been, I am realizing more and more every day, just how lucky I am that I will be able to make a full recovery.  God is so good, and I am so very thankful!

So now on to the rest of the post!  I have been wanting to share these photos with you guys for forever, and with the accident, just didn’t get around to it.  So in honor of my old house officially selling (and because I get so many requests for this kind of post), I thought I’d give y’all a little peek at the space where I used to live!  Better late than never, right?

Prints | Cow Skull Print | Black and White Pillow | Other Pillows | Settee | Leather Couch | Pink Chairs | Outdoor Furniture | Bar Stools | Farmhouse Sink

I am currently in the process of decorating my new house, and I can’t wait to share it with you guys.  It is much more modern than my old one, so I am taking a different approach, which is definitely venturing into new territory for me.  I also might have just ordered a GORGEOUS pink mid-century modern couch.  And I am SO excited for it to arrive.

Hope you guys are having a great week.  Thanks so much for stopping by!

xoxo,

Abby