Close to Home

Stumbled upon an article outlining the impacts of the drought on California’s wealthiest. It is interesting to see the impacts of the drought throughout Santa Barbara. I work for the local Housing Authority and we have stopped watering lawns at all of our properties. As government we are supposed to be the example, and you’re definitely starting to see browning lawns at government owned buildings. Also, all new buildings in the city seem to only use drought tolerant landscaping. Time to seriously implement change in the way we landscape. As the article mentions, a lot of California is desert, we don’t have the extra water. It is interesting to see how some of the wealthiest and biggest water users in the area are dealing with the issue. 

When Suburban Churches Look… Suburban

I saw this interesting article posted this morning on, “Why Contemporary Protestant Church Architecture is so Poor” on The Urbanophile’s blog.

The author posted an article by Duncan Stroik, a professor of architecture of Notre Dame, that discusses his theory of why protestant churches put less effort into the design and architecture of their places of worship comparing it to cities in Europe and catholic and orthodox churches. The full article can be read here.

While the planner in me loves good design, aesthetically beautiful architecture, and visual appeal, I tend to lean more on the ‘church can be anywhere’ side of things. Jesus participated in church in temples, homes, and outdoors.

So while I don’t necessarily agree with the author’s closing words,

“That call is to glorify God in all that we do, not just through special spiritual practices. I hope that we Protestants will rediscover how to glorify Him in our buildings, recognizing them as an integral part of our worship. Let us do that without neglecting to glorify Him in our hearts, actions, and every other aspect of life as well.”

I think he brings up a lot of interesting points throughout about cultural and spiritual practices that influenced the protestant church.

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Can we talk about Guardians of the Galaxy for a Minute?

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I went to an opening night showing of Guardians of the Galaxy at a local theater. And, well, I went and saw it again in DBOX (for those of you who don’t know what D-BOX is, click here). I liked it that much.

I’m happy to see almost everyone else who has seen the movie loving it that much too. A.V. Club just posted this funny article about the popular soundtrack.

I never grew up reading comic books but have thoroughly enjoyed all of the Marvel films (as well as the Batman trilogy), seeing most of them multiple times. The boyfriend though did grow up reading comic books and is well versed. After every movie we watch he is usually flooded with a flurry of questions because of this.

I think Guardians is on par with the Avengers for being the most fun of the Marvel movies. It is so funny, the characters are incredibly lovable, packed with adventure, and of course, baby Groot (please see the movie so you understand this). Also, one of my favorite opening scenes of any movie I have watched. AND, can’t forget the perfectly timed classic pop songs.

Because of my recent love for this film, I thought I would share some of the art work inspired by the original comics and movie (most of it curated by the boyfriend himself):



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GuardiansOfTheGalaxyAlexRossCMYK-481af (1)



*I don’t have all the original links to the images/artists but will update it if I find them.

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Discomfort with the Truth

As I wrote in my previous post, I have been reading the news a lot more lately. I am starting to learn more about the Middle East, ISIS, Gaza, Israel, the Ebola virus, the Yazidis people, the Ukraine, etc. It is not that I knew nothing beforehand about some of these topics or other worldly events, but I purposefully avoided reading too much. I’m realizing that it’s a selfish decision to do that. I avoid it because it is hard to sit with. It’s unsettling. It’s unbelievable and I don’t know how to understand what these people, real people, are going through. It makes me feel small and makes everything in my life seem pointless when children in other countries are being killed and going hungry. But even this perspective is selfish, putting emphasis on my own life and how it makes me feel.

I was relieved to find that Sarah Bessey, a popular Christian blogger and author of Jesus Feminist put into words exactly what I was feeling at the exact moment I needed it. I’m appreciative of the perspective she gives and the posture she suggests to take as a Christian in the U.S.

Here is an excerpt from the post,

“We can’t willfully push away the suffering of humanity and the terribleness of the world out of selfishness and discomfort with the truth.

We can listen – truly listen – to the stories that people need to tell. Maya Angelou wrote that there is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you.

We can kick against the injustices and amplify the voices of those who are suffering. We can read the prophets like Isaiah and Amos and Jeremiah. We can educate ourselves and seek to understand complexity outside of our pet sources. We can light candles and, oh, we can pray.

We can write letters and advocate. We can be teachable. We can hold space for the suffering. We can both prayerfully and practically support people and organizations who are working towards peace and shalom in the front lines. We can do that work ourselves, daily small and unsexy as it is.

We can let our children lead us back to the right response – compassion and tenderness of heart again.

In the words of Isaiah, we can sweep our lives clean of evildoings, say no to wrong, learn to do good, work for justice, help the down-and-out, stand up for the homeless, go to bat for the defenseless. (Isaiah 1:12-17)”

Read the full post here.

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7 Experiment – Media Recap

This week of the 7 experiment focused on media. I knew when I got the book and flipped through the chapters the media would probably be the hardest week. In some ways those expectations were met but in other ways, not so much (which was a pleasant surprise).

When the week began, I initially decided to give up everything. No television, movies, unnecessary internet or email, no social media, no apps (just texting/calling), no blogs, and so on. One of my goals of this though was not to address just the amount of media I consume, but the quality. Because of this, I allowed myself to read news websites to start becoming better versed in current events and issues in other parts of the world (It made me realize why I like to avoid the news… my mind can’t wrap around what is going on in other countries, it’s so heart breaking – but important to be aware of).

I did this for three days and became very aware of what media I felt like is okay and positive for my life and what is a negative influence. I realized that I have good media literacy and can determine what lies/assumptions/stereotypes are portrayed in media. I am also good at making sure if I am at dinner, with friends, or doing something social, I rarely have my phone out. The author addressed these areas of media consumption and I was happy to feel like I was already in a good place.

The negative influences were primarily Facebook, Instagram, and fashion blogs. The phrase, “negative influences” makes it sound like they were peer-pressuring me to do drugs so I use the phrase lightly. These things are not inherently bad, but were the pieces of media that I felt like were consumed often, in large amounts, and with little fruitful outcome. I typically use them to kill time, procrastinate, and escape from stress.

These three outlets were primarily used for entertainment and to keep my brain occupied. When I felt stressed, lazy, or had any ounce of time to kill, I would open one of these things on my phone and scroll. Being entertained and checking these outlets are not even that bad and I do enjoy it – but the amount of time I was spending robbed time from other things that are more of a priority to me.

Cutting out all the ‘excess media’ (the phrase I am using to distinguish between quality media and time-wasting media) this week has been really positive for me. I have been reading the news, reading a book (getting some real use out of my kindle), reading comic books, cooked a lot of new recipes, and found new blogs about richer subjects that I am really enjoying.

I haven’t decided yet what I want to be permanent changes and what I will allow back. Right now I am considering creating a time limit each day that I can check excess media. Probably 15 minutes a day I can do mindless media – Facebook, Instagram, fashion blogs, and then shut it down after that. After this week, It really solidified to me that that is all the time those outlets really need.

I’m hoping that this will also encourage me to continue investing in this blog and be inspired to share interesting articles and write more. This last year I have begun to enjoy writing so much more and want to make it a hobby that I continue to invest in (I guess until grad school starts again in the fall and I have no more time left).

Going through this process of 7 has been such a breath of fresh air for me. It has been the catalyst of investing in my faith again. I was in such a stagnant space spiritually for the last three years and I am so thankful that God has been using this book and study to bring me into a better place. I have been so encouraged by this process of learning, growing, and refining myself. I am really looking forward to what is ahead (that sounds so cheesy, but you get the idea).

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Vanishing New York

The Daily Beast recently published an article about one man’s blog, Jerimiah’s Vanishing New York,, which chronicles the disappearance of small stores and local restaurants from New York’s streets and neighborhoods due to extreme hikes in rent.

Scrolling through the blog made me so sad as I read multiple stories of many local businesses with long histories being shut down. Despite the sadness, it’s incredibly interesting and worth taking a look.

Read the full article and interview with the author with the Daily Beast here.

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I Don’t Want This

I came across this blog post today from minimalist blogger, Be More with Less, titled, “I Don’t Want to Eat this Way.” The post talks about how doing things that are good for us are not often what we actually WANT to do. Her example was waking up in the morning and choosing a healthy breakfast of a kale smoothie instead of a stack of pancakes and bacon. She then asks the question of, Why do we do any of these things that we don’t actually want to? Cleaning out our garages, eating a plate of spinach, running, paying off debt, or, let’s say, purposefully taking two more years of college.

There are so many things I don’t want to do and will naturally feel resistant as soon as it comes up. Exercise, eating healthy, cooking dinner, reading a book, writing a blog post, etc. I want the easy way out, always. As the author notes, “We want all of the benefits and none of the work.” I’m sure there are many out there who can relate, but I know this speaks true to me and is the daily struggle I have to overcome. I have approached so many days with my checklist of things I have to do in order to just get through the bare minimum of the day so I can collapse later and be lazy. Went to class, check. Turn in homework online, check. Paid rent, check. Spend the next 6 hours browsing instagram and watching netflix, done. When I would consider investing in hobbies or other interests, or even just reading the news, I would take the lazy way out of self-deprecation and convince myself that anything I tried wouldn’t be very good anyway, so what is the point?

I feel a constant war within myself of the person who I know I want to be and CAN be and my own laziness to actually becoming her. I even journaled about this a couple of weeks ago and made a two-columned list. On the left side I wrote all the things I would like to be doing with my time and on the right I wrote down what I ACTUALLY do with my time. Everything on the right was just me being lazy and not wanting to put in the real effort it takes to develop my interests and invest in my personal well-being.

I know that I don’t want a lazy life. Even though I am giving into what I want to be doing in the moment (which is usually nothing), it’s not what makes me happy, it’s not enriching my life, and it’s not honoring God.

The author writes,

“I wasn’t born a kale lover and I’m not naturally excited to exercise. If you want to know how I grew my blog into a successful business, or how I eat mostly fruits and vegetables, or how I stay active, it’s not about motivation, determination, or skill. It’s because I do things that I don’t want to do. I do things that make me uncomfortable, things that I don’t think I’m capable of doing and things I don’t know how to do.
I wish that some of the books I’ve read, or health and business coaches would talk more about that. We have to do things we don’t want to do to be who we want to be and feel how we want to feel. And once we push through that tiny bit (or really big chunk) of resistance, we usually find we are doing exactly what we want.” [emphasis added]

I love that line. It takes doing what we don’t want to do to being who we want to be and feeling the way we want to feel. All the things I want to do leave me feeling depressed, sluggish, and unproductive. Doing what I don’t want to do makes me feel accomplished, happy, and energized.

I need to remind myself of that daily as I work through all the tasks I feel resistant to – that I am working toward what I want and something truly worthwhile.

So who do I want to be and how do I want to feel?

I want to have a deep personal relationship with God.
I want to genuine relationships.
I want to care deeply for the poor and marginalized.
I want to feel happy and productive.
I want to feel healthy and strong physically and emotionally.
I want to invest in and contribute to my career.
I want my priorities to be reflected in my time.
I wan to keep learning and be knowledgeable on a variety of topics.
I want to invest in my writing.
I want to be selfless.
I want to enjoy and learn from quality books, movies, television, and blogs.

And the list will continue. Each one of these requires effort, time, and care. It is not going to be what I naturally want to do but I love how the author ended the post, “If you want to get out of your slump, simplify your life, create a new career, start a new relationship, or try something you’ve never done before, simply do what you don’t want to do. You don’t have to be inspired or motivated and you don’t have to want it right away. Just start.”

It reminds me of a line I’ve heard in the past, “You don’t have to do everything, you just have to do something.”

So here is to starting a new week and filling it with things I don’t want to do.

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Went to the Premier of Guardians of the Galaxy

And now this is all I can sing.

I’m happy with that though. Such a great movie. Go see it!

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Public Health & Planning – Attractive Stairs

I found this interesting article on NPR today noting the positive help benefits of using stairs. It tied in well with this other NPR article posted today noting how obesity in America is largely due to inactivity versus eating too much. I continue to be inspired by the countless examples of urban planning’s ability to be a powerful tool for improving the health and well-being of our communities.

What I love about encouraging the use of stairs is not only the positive health benefits but also the potential to add more public art to the built environment. Increasing visual interest will make people want to take the stairs instead.

Here are a few inspiring steps from around the world.

Read the full article here

Spanish style tiled steps in Santa Barbara, California.

“Endless Stair” in Munich. There is no practical purpose to these ones.

Famous “Escadaria Selarón” steps in Rio de Janeiro.

Also, check out this great video .

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7 Experiment – Clothes Recap

Today marks the end of the clothes portion of Jen Hatmaker’s “7 Experiment.”

What stood out to me the most in the study this week is when Jen has the reader complete this sentence: “What I want my clothes to communicate about me is…” Without even thinking about it I wrote, “…that I’m interesting, cool, someone special and worthwhile.” Whoa, a bit heavier than I anticipated. The time I spend thinking about clothes, looking at fashion blogs and magazines, and desires to continue shopping come from a place of insecurity.

I struggle with the widely shared insecurity that there isn’t anything about me to like. I don’t have a ‘thing’, i.e. I am not a skilled painter, musician, tri-lingual, world traveler, (fill in the blank), etc. I hated having to answer what my hobbies were because I never had an answer or anything to share. Unless, well, binge watching Netflix and wasting time on blogs count? I tried to put together stylish or quirky outfits to ‘express’ myself to make up for my lack of interesting extracurricular. I then tried to fashion blog to make it the part of me that was interesting. It still felt empty though, I was just fooling myself.

Jen makes the point too that for many the major motivators of what we wear is based on how other people view us – and I had succumbed to this.

My biggest areas of growth and struggle are my persistent laziness, avoiding discomfort at all costs, and quitting the moment something becomes challenging. These are the things that have left me without hobbies or investing in learning something new – my own barriers. Trying to create an interesting appearance was easier than actually learning or participating in something interesting. I wanted adoration and affirmation without any work (Which, you shouldn’t have interesting hobbies purely for that reason, but hopefully my point is being made). God has already made me special and interesting. He already gave me gifts. That doesn’t mean though that those gifts won’t require some nurturing and hard work. Also, an obvious heart change was needed because my focus for dressing well and having interesting hobbies was based on what other people thought.

I also delved deeper into my insecurities by addressing tendencies to compare myself to other women based on outward appearance, i.e. feeling hideous around a woman with great skin, beautiful hair, and a chic outfit who just got back from her international missions trip.

I have already began the journey about a year ago in addressing some of these issues but the continual spiritual growth and teaching is helping in learning more and pressing onward.

God is using the 7 Experiment to help me understand the simple goals I have for my rising adulthood. That is: that my time, possessions, and actions align with my beliefs and values. Anything else that doesn’t align with those needs to be phased out. Now, this is a lot of work and something I will be striving for probably the rest of my life, but is also simple enough to be achievable.

Living out of my gym bag went well this week. Despite feeling limited at times and wishing I could grab some of my other clothes, after my Fresno experience, I enjoy voluntary simplicity. It’s great not having to pick out an outfit but having everything pre-packed and planned. I did feel like I was pretty much wearing the same thing everyday, but as Jen mentions in her book, no one else cares or notices – just you. It is good for me to realize too that some people only have the clothes on their back and would see just the contents of my gym bag as a lot – always important to have perspective.

I took a log of all my clothes and despite the various phases of purging I have gone through – I still have quite a bit.

I did cheat with shoes… I couldn’t fit each pair I wanted because my athletic shoes take up so much space. Whoops.

Next up: Possessions.

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