25 things I learned at 25

25 things I learned at 25

This morning I got the chance to catch up with a dear friend, one who’s walked with me through a lot of the ups and downs that characterize the seasons we navigate in our mid-20s. I was sharing with her that looking back on where I was a year ago takes my breath away — I don’t recognize the girl who was trying to live and love and figure things out this time last year, and I don’t recognize the circumstances by which she was surrounded.

I wrote this list on the eve of my 26th birthday, back in early September of 2018. I was transitioning out of a season of stripping away, and I felt reflective and hopeful despite having no idea what life had in store for me.

It took me until just a couple of weeks ago to come to the realization that the season of stripping away was really just creating space for my heart and soul to be filled in new and stunningly beautiful ways, and when I made that realization for myself I revisited my list with a new perspective, newly ready to face the lessons that I learned during one of the most challenging years of my life.

So, without further ado, here’s my list of 25 things I learned at 25, unedited and in no particular order.

  1. Yes you can do that thing. This is the most important thing that 25-year-old Kaeli learned. Regardless of what it is, no matter if it’s big or small, you can do it. Want to be a gym-goer? Go. Want to learn to cook better? Cook. Want to clean your room or do a yoga flow or learn Spanish? You can. You have the time and you have the capability. This is your permission to Do That Thing.
  2. Take social media breaks.
  3. Say yes to coffee.
  4. Be the one who initiates.  Especially if no one is asking you to coffee.
  5. People care less about what you’re doing than you think. Everyone is just worried about their own self, and therefore no one remembers that embarrassing thing you said or did.
  6. Your voice matters.
  7. Everyone’s timeline is different.
  8. Self-care is for everyone and it’s not a sign of weakness.
  9. It’s okay to say no. I’m going to say that again. It’s okay to say no.
  10. It’s really all for His good.
  11. Don’t put God-sized expectations on human-sized humans. He should be your source and your refuge. You can expect people to treat you well, but don’t expect them to carry all of your burdens and heal all your hurts. Only He can do that.
  12. Walk through open doors.
  13. Put the phone down.
  14. Pretending to dislike things that are popular doesn’t make you cooler or more interesting.
  15. Stay up-to-date on the news.
  16. VOTE.
  17. Carry a journal with you. Inspiration can strike at any time and it doesn’t stick around for long.
  18. People (including you) are resilient.
  19. There is beauty in alone time.
  20. Ask for what you want.
  21. Listen.
  22. Softness and strength can co-exist. Own your duality, dear one. You can be soft and strong, content and driven, oceans and mountains. Anyone who puts you in a box is doing you a disservice, so don’t put yourself in one either.
  23. Get in the Word.
  24. Love unapologetically.
  25. You deserve the good that is coming to you. And it’s coming.

So there you have it. It’s a little disorganized and imperfect but hopefully there were one or two things in there that inspired you to look through a bit of a different lens when considering your circumstances. If you don’t take anything else out of this list, just read that last one again. The good is coming, dear friend. It’s always coming.

Stay beautiful. – K

how ariana grande and marie kondo taught me to let go

how ariana grande and marie kondo taught me to let go

I got coffee with a friend the other day, and our conversation drifted to gratitude — more specifically, the pressure to carry gratitude through the seasons of life that make you feel like every step you take is kicking up dust as you move through an endless wasteland of uncomfortable interactions with well-meaning acquaintances, perceivably unnecessary growing pains, and/or promises not yet seen.

As Christians, I think we have a bad habit of defaulting to gratitude. A quick (though admittedly not thorough) Google search revealed that giving thanks is mentioned at least 140 times in the Bible, and some of the more well-known pieces of Scripture focus on the concept. However, in my opinion neither the quantity nor the significance of biblical references to gratitude are an indication that we should be grateful as soon as we’re faced with something difficult, or skip the sitting-in and the feeling-of whatever we encounter during those dusty wasteland seasons.

You’re not doing it wrong if the gratitude doesn’t come until later.

The reason I haven’t written since May of last year is because last summer was one of those seasons of putting one dusty foot in front of the other and trusting that there would be an end to the things I was experiencing, feeling, and losing, and when the dust settled all I could do was sit in it and pray that the hollow spaces left behind would be filled with something bigger and much more permanent — supernatural love.

What I was praying for came true (it always does), but it didn’t happen right away. Since last summer I’ve been much more intentional about the things I’m choosing to replace those that were stripped away, and I think treating my hollow spaces as opportunities to plant new things rather than aching divots in my heart led to a deeper understanding of why they were put there in the first place. Cherishing my soul’s negative space taught me about the gratitude of letting go.

Well…that, Marie Kondo, and Ariana Grande. The thematically relevant “Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and “thank u, next,” both of which taught me the value of the space left behind when you bid farewell to things that no longer serve you, grow you, or bring you closer to Jesus. The idea of practicing gratitude for the closed doors and the road blocks and the dusty trails through the wilderness, because all of it has created spaces within you that the Lord will fill with things beyond your wildest dreams.

What my friend and I finally landed on when we were at coffee was this: not currently feeling gratitude in your letting go doesn’t mean you never will. In fact, sitting in the pain and the uncertainty with a knowing in your heart that someday you will be grateful is one of the most beautiful examples of faith I can think of.

The other day I drove past something that triggered a memory. I braced myself for the familiar ache, but it didn’t come. Instead, I thanked that period of life for serving me, teaching me, growing me, and preparing my heart and soul to receive the new. In fact, that same night I revisited my list of 25 things I learned at 25, something I haven’t glanced at since this summer because I didn’t think I was ready. I’ll be sharing it here on the blog next week.

The truth is I’m still in process. I’m still learning that there will someday be gratitude in all of my letting go. That it’s okay to sit in what I’m feeling as long as I have the trust in the growth and the next dusty step. There aren’t many things I’m certain of, but one of those things is that no matter what you’re letting go of, the space it leaves behind will be filled with light and hope and love.

Stay beautiful. – K

The Power of Letting Go

A couple of weeks ago I spoke at an event called Girls’ Night, and I finally got around to listening to the recording from the evening. Hearing myself talk about dreams, and creativity, and fighting fear to let go of your art inspired me to finally take the leap and relaunch this blog. Listen below:

I was so afraid for so long that this blog wouldn’t be perfect enough to share. I love to write but I’m still learning about blog platforms and branding and social media tips and email blasts so I thought I wasn’t ready to fling this out into the world. Then I listened to this recording and realized that it will never be perfect and neither will I, and the people who need to hear this message are more important than my fear.

Today I hope you’re inspired to let go of that thing you’ve been holding. Someone needs to receive it.

Stronger than the sagebrush

Over Labor Day weekend, I followed the tug of my country heart and went to visit Eastern Washington. While I was there, I decided to go on a hike to satisfy my desire to experience the Washington desert that was so vastly different than the evergreen-patterned and rain-dampened region that’s become my home over the past two years. So, onward to the Ancient Lakes trailhead I went.

I marveled at the beauty of the harsh, arid, valley surrounded by cliffs covered in red rocks and dry desert flowers. While it was different than anything I’d ever experienced — neither in my time living in Washington nor my Minnesota upbringing — something about what I saw before me made my Midwest soul feel at home.

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Here’s why you should love the valleys

My legs are still sore from the hike I took to Poo Poo Point (teehee) on Saturday. But every slightly painful step I take today reminds me that these legs carried me all the way through the longest hike I’ve done to date. And that’s pretty incredible.

To be honest, I was terrified to do this hike. The people I was with had all lived in Washington longer than I, and I understood more time in the Northwest to equate to more strength, more endurance…and fewer breaks!

In the days leading up to Saturday, I texted a friend and asked for tips. How do I make up excuses to stop and catch my breath without making it seem like I can’t handle the challenge? She gave me some great ideas (re-tie your boot, stop to take pictures, take your sweatshirt off and put it in your bag, etc.), but I think what I was really asking was: how do I take care of myself while hiding my vulnerability and inexperience? How do I make sure the only thing I let them see is strength?

I was missing the point.

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Keep your face towards the sunshine

Are you a morning person? If so, teach me your ways.

We’re a month into 2017 and all of those shiny resolutions I made for myself are getting a little hard to uphold. Especially that pesky one about waking up extra early to get more things done in the morning. I hate waking up early, but I know that those early hours hold so much potential. So I’m working on it.

This morning when I woke up, I spent a little time reading Psalm 103. And the words stuck with me in a really meaningful way.

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Why you shouldn’t be afraid to let go

I am a clingy person. But not in the way you’re imagining.

I was at a dinner party last night where I had a conversation with a beautiful new friend about how talented people often live under the constraints of perfectionism. She told me she has a gift she’s hesitant to share because she thinks it isn’t ready or perfect. Others in the room chimed in, saying that they too were caught working and re-working things they’d created, thus leaving them perpetually unfinished. It makes sense that there’s safety in that. Leaving things unfinished allows us room to keep returning to them over and over, making small changes until we forget why we started in the first place.

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