2020: A Year In Review

It was a weird and hard year to say the least.

Honestly, that is a major understatement: it was a wild, wacky, devastating, life-changing, year. From start to finish, it was a long twelve months.

This was the year of COVID-19 and heightened systemic racism, but it was also the year I started law school and became a dog mom. This year I wrestled with singleness, but also gained wonderful friendships. This year I was out of a job for nearly two months, but I eventually returned to the climbing gym–a job I absolutely love!

This year I was reminded of the intermingling between joy and sorrow, love and loss, mountains and valleys. I was reminded Jesus is good and loyal and loving toward us no matter our struggles, battles, or hardships. I was reminded that giving while we grieve helps even while we hurt.

2020 had its highs:

  • Getting into and starting law school!–the journey to becoming an attorney has been filled with ups and downs, but I am so grateful that I committed to pursuing this dream.
  • Becoming a dog mom!–my sweet pup Jack has changed my life for the better–his unconditional love and never-ending cuddles fill up my heart.
  • Learning how to lead climb– and continuing to practice this special type of climbing. Saying no to fear and yes to bravery and yes to trying new and hard things!
  • Celebrating one year on desk at Summit–a job I enjoy and excel at and love! And landing a promotion over the summer was a wonderful surprise.

2020 had its lows:

  • Getting rejected by plenty of law schools (but ultimately winding up at the one that was best for me was a high).
  • Moving back home–I love my family and am grateful for their generosity, but I miss my alone time and being messy! Hehe.
  • Coping with systemic racism–I live a very privileged and blessed life, but I know that is not the case for every American (or person, for that matter). It’s been a learning and growing and mourning process, it’s been an eye-opener to consider my colored friends and their daily struggles and hardships.
  • Surviving COVID-19–just like everyone else, it’s been a hard and life-changing year: having to adapt to wearing a mask everywhere, to staying at home as much as possible, to taking virtual classes.

Despite this weird year, I feel blessed.

I feel blessed to have made new friends at the gym and welcomed so many new faces into our climbing community. I feel blessed to have built new relationships, but kept the life-giving ones. I feel blessed to have consistency in my life: with Jesus, with my family, with my well mood.

I feel blessed to have learned and grown and refined who I am. I feel blessed to have loved and lost. I feel blessed to have grown in strength and independence during a year of singleness. I feel blessed to have continued writing stories and sharing my life and learning more about content creation.

It’s been an odd and life-changing year, but I am grateful and thankful and happy and whole! I hope that despite the lows and recognizing the highs, you feel grateful and thankful and happy and whole, too!

But if you do not, I hope you know you are not alone in sadness and struggles. You are loved, you are treasured, you are a delight in the Lord’s eyes. Go in peace and love, go in grace and mercy, and may you have a better 2021.

A Heart Full Of Thanks: My 10 Top Blessings Of 2020

Thanksgiving is here!

My favorite food, my favorite people, my favorite holiday all wrapped up into one day and given to me in a pretty little bow! This Thanksgiving will look drastically different, smaller, and quieter than years’ past, but that doesn’t mean it will be a bad one–just different.

This has been a hard year for everyone, but I know we can still give thanks. We can count our blessings, we can remember the good things, we can share the highs and lows and in-betweens. We can be glad for what we have, sad for what we don’t, and still feel blessed.

I’m full of thanks this year.

Here is my list of my top 10 things I am thankful for:

  1. A well mind– I haven’t struggled with depression in over two years, and I cannot express just how huge of a blessing this is. It is a gift to pursue dreams, be happy, and laugh genuinely.
  2. A healthy body– A body that can stretch and dance and move and bounce and CLIMB.
  3. My climbing community– Truly the most welcome and inspiring community, I am thankful for strangers who turn into friends so quickly. They are kind and inclusive and just plain fun!
  4. My church community– The ones who keep me rooted in Christ and point me to what matters, the ones who love me deeply and fiercely and wonderfully.
  5. My family– My new roommates! They have welcomed me into their home, given me reason to laugh, and supported me every step of the way of my law school journey.
  6. Taylor Swift’s Folklore album– It’s a bop! The end.
  7. My pup Jack– The light of my life, the center of my world: he is small and cute and fluffy and scruffy and scrappy and the best thing that happened to me in 2020.
  8. Coffee– The fuel that gives me life!
  9. My job– I get paid to welcome people into the climbing community! I get paid to love people! I get paid to climb! (Ok, not really, but kind of).
  10. My education– Perhaps the most concrete evidence of God’s faithfulness in 2020, I am so thankful that I was able to return to school this year to pursue a law degree. Virtual learning has not been easy (and neither is law school in general), but it has been such a gift.

I encourage you to consider what you are thankful for this year.

Maybe you can’t come up with ten or even five things, but I bet you could find at least a few: maybe it is your health, your family, maybe it is your community, or favorite hobby.

And come Thanksgiving day, you can share what you are thankful for with whomever you may be celebrating the holiday with. You can sit around the table, eat, drink, and be merry, and remember the good things, remember the blessings.

My Vow To You: On Daily Decisions & True Self-Care

Self-care is important.

I firmly believe that to properly and fully and radically care for others, you have to care for yourself first. You have to assess your needs, wants, heart’s desires, your time, energy, and emotions, and gauge whether or not you have the capacity to give of yourself.

Sometimes I have plenty to give. Sometimes I have little–or even nothing–left.

Self-care looks a little different for everyone–and that’s ok! We are each individuals, made up of feelings and commitments and passions that differ from the other. We are hard-wired differently, we think and process and love and laugh differently. So we can take care of ourselves differently, too!

I saw a really great quote today.

My sweet friend (and just a wonderful person) Kristin shared it to her Instagram stories. It said that true mental self-care is not solely made of spa days and chocolate cake, but it is “making choices each day that create a life you don’t need to escape from.” (Quote from Dr. Caroline Leaf).

That really resonated with me.

Sometimes petting my dog and setting homework aside is self-care. Sometimes long talks with Sweet Denise (aka Mom) or going for a walk are forms of self-care.

But true self-care leads to true change, refinement, and growth.

True self-care is making daily decisions that will positively impact my mind, body, and soul for the long-term. True self-care is establishing and feeding positive relationships with positive people. It’s asking myself what I need and following through with whatever that may be.

It’s saying no to over-exhaustion and over-commitment, to people pleasing and self-neglect. It’s saying yes to kind conversations, to life-giving activities, and to progress over perfection.

I’m not quite sure what it is, but sometimes it is hard to see bad decisions as bad in the moment. It can be easy to say yes to too many obligations, too many folks, too many things. It can be hard to say no to my friends, no to my superiors, no to my low social battery.

So here I am, vowing to take better care of myself, and hoping you will join me!

Here I am, promising to you that I will self-assess and self-protect and self-motivate; promising to you that I will make better and more wholesome decisions. Here I am, asking you to hold me accountable, and volunteering to do the same for you.

We are all in this together. We can all take better care of ourselves, at all times. Well, what are you waiting for? Let’s do this!

Getaway Recap: 48-Hours in Colorado

This weekend in Colorado was a whirlwind!

I landed around 10 a.m. on Friday and I left around Noon on Sunday. Talk about a quick, quick, quick trip! Even though my time in Colorado Springs & the Denver area was extremely short, it was also extremely sweet.

Let’s dive in to this weekend’s highlights:

Colorado Springs

  • McKae & Creed’s wedding in CO Springs— the biggest highlight of the weekend, and also the reason I came into town, was my sweet friend McKae’s wedding. McKae and I have only known each other about a year, since we met working at the climbing gym, but she is truly the kindest and truest friend. Hers & Creed’s wedding was veryyy cold, but also very beautiful, romantic, and whimsical.
  • Brunch at Western Omelet– The morning after the wedding, the Summit gym gang was starving. We ate some really huge portioned breakfasts at this restaurant that had the best service (the owner was quite attentive) and delicious food. I had the Southern Scramble, which is basically their version of the migas. I’m a creature of habit, what can I say?
  • Coffee at Switchback– After our brunch, a couple of the gal pals and I camped out at Switchback to get some ish done. There was a long line out the door (thanks, COVID), but I can see why! The space was beautiful and light and airy, filled with greenery and plants galore, and the service was ever-so-kind. 10/10 recommend!

Denver area

  • Coffee at Morrison Joe– Coffee again (duh). This time in Morrison, my sweet Chinese sister Beth and I each enjoyed a matcha tea & almond milk latte respectively. This little shop is tiny, tiny, tiny, but rests in the heart of Morrison. A great spot with great views!
  • Walking around downtown in Golden– Golden is the cutest little town. Beth and I meandered along downtown Golden, window shopping, popping in and out of local shops and smelling the restaurants’ aromas as we walked by. The weather was perfect and the night was delightful.
  • Ramen at Menya in Belmar– As a ramen addict, I had to introduce Beth to one of my all-time favorite dishes. Beth had the tempura udon ramen, and I had chashu with some chili sauce. Served quickly, served hot, and devoured within a matter of minutes.
  • Coffee at Corvus in Littleton– our last hoorah, Beth and I grabbed coffee as I was headed on my way to the airport. I had been to Corvus in Denver, but I think I prefer this Littleton space. I had a brioche & egg bun and oat milk latte. Definitely the shortest meal of the trip, but still absolutely delicious!

My time in Colorado is never enough.

I really fall more in love with Colorado/Denver every single time I visit. This was my fourth time coming to Denver in three years, and every time I come it’s like seeing an old friend. This was my first trip to Colorado Springs and I fell in love with that little town, too. The mountains, the crisp air, the hip folks, I can never get enough!

 

The Monthly Update: March

March was a hard month for me.

And it probably was for you, too. My world has turned upside-down the past couple of weeks, as both of my jobs were put on pause, and a Shelter In Place order went into effect in Dallas.

But, as promised, I am delivering you your monthly update. I have plenty on my mind and heart lately, and I am looking forward to sharing with you in the days and weeks to come.

March highlights:

  • Right before my job at Summit was put on pause, I was promoted to Event Manager at our Dallas gym (my home gym). When we re-open, this will entail me fostering community at our gym through hosting events and competitions. I am so excited to reunite with the climbing community!
  • I got my second tattoo mid-March, a simple “joyful” in script with flowers. This little ink is a reminder the Fruit of the Spirit lives in and through me. Even on my down and depressed days, joy is in my soul and bones.

March lowlights:

  • The coronavirus crisis and social distancing is affecting everyone, including myself (obviously). It has been hard to stay home alone and physically distance myself from friends and family, but I am thankful to be safe in my apartment, for video calls, and for food delivery.

This month, I was filled by:

  • While everyone has been physically distant, I have seen so many people come together during this time: supporting one another, praying for others, sending each other love in the form of flowers, cards, and treats. There is so much encouragement and love swirling around, and it brings me utter joy!
  • I was able to have a video therapy session with Chelsey, my therapist of four years(!!). I had not seen her in a couple of months and the timing could not have been better. I loved catching up with her, listening to her wisdom and advice, and left with high spirits.

This month, I was emptied by:

  • The news of having both of my jobs put on hold was tough and discouraging. It made me feel sad and down and even minorly depressed for a couple of days.

In April, I am looking forward to:

  • Time to myself that I can use for creativity, writing, playing music, and more.
  • Continuing to connect with friends via video chats and phone calls, doing my best to spread the love near and far!

It Takes A Village: On The Value Of Deeply-Rooted Community

I used to feel awfully alone.

When I first returned to Dallas from Nashville, I felt awfully alone. Not the kind of loneliness that comes and goes with varying moods or circumstances, but the kind of isolation and desertion that leaves you feeling empty and saddened.

Only a handful of my hometown and college friends were also living in Dallas at the time. As I struggled with severe depression and anxiety, the symptoms of shame and false guilt caused me to withdraw even further away from people who loved me.

But these days, I feel awfully loved.

After three+ years of living in Dallas, I feel awfully loved. Not the kind of vague kindness between civil acquaintances, but the kind of radical and reckless and over-the-moon compassion that makes you feel full and thrilled.

Today I am overwhelmingly cherished by a community of family, friends, churchgoers, climbers, baristas, and more. These are people who show me kindness when I am anything but. These are people who sit and weep with me when I am down. These are people who jump and scream with me when I am up.

It takes a village.

They say, “It takes a village.” I don’t know exactly who “they” are, but it’s a common saying I have heard time and time again, and now I know it to be true.

It takes a village to make me feel loved and supported and welcomed and accepted. It takes a village to make others feel needed and cherished and wanted and treasured. It takes a village for each of us to do this thing called life, and to do it well.

Here are some thoughts on the value of a deeply-rooted village:

  1. Community is worth it. It’s worth the trouble, it’s worth the search. Community is important and it may be hard to find, but I promise if you try hard enough and do discover one, your life will be better.
  2. Community is hard. It’s not easy to be vulnerable and transparent, which are two keys to building a deeply-rooted community. It’s not easy to see someone you love hurting or in need, but I promise if you stick with your community, when your hurts eventually heal, you will have a body of cheerleaders to celebrate with you!
  3.  Community is life changing. When you find people who love you, with heart and soul and in every possible way, your world is entirely rocked. You will never be the same — and I mean this is the best way!

Getaway Recap: Waco In Five Hours

Waco is a wonderland.

That’s why my friends and I used to say, somewhat joking but also somewhat serious. When people learn I went to school in Waco, they often ask, “Hmm…how did you like Waco?”

Honestly, at first, I hated it. I was a Dallas gal stuck in a less-than-thrilling town. But the more time I spent in the 254, the more I grew to love its quirks and hidden gems, and the more I began to call it home.

I escaped the 214 yesterday for a quick trip to my college town.

My gal pal Lauren and I concluded after a long and semi-rough start to the new year, we deserved a short getaway to escape the worries and stresses of jobs and obligations and Dallas traffic. We hopped on I-35E and headed a couple hours south to my beloved home away from home.

We were only in Waco for about five hours, but we attempted to eat and drink and do the best things this quaint town had to offer.

With so many things to do in such little time, here’s what we ended up with:

  1. Common Grounds —  First thing’s first: in order to have a productive day, you have to start with a cup of Joe. This well-known treasure located right off Baylor’s campus will always be a Waco staple. I started my trip with a vanilla latte and Lauren had an iced mocha.
  2. Spice Village & Roots Boutique — Second thing’s second: once we were caffeinated, we headed to Spice for some great Waco shopping. Cute boutiques with clothes & jewelry & trinkets galore. Roots is located in the same building that also has plenty of good finds.
  3. Lula Jane’s — my very favorite Wacoan eatery, Lula’s is a garden-to-table restaurant and bakery. We munched on some chips and hummus while we downed iced tea. A wonderful midday snack.
  4. Clay Pot — also a great Waco restaurant, this Vietnamese establishment includes great food with kind service. It’s fast and reasonably priced, too!
  5. Dichotomy — As a coffee addict, I needed a drink for the road. I chose a decaf cappuccino to-go even though I would have loved to stay at my favorite local coffee shop. Chill vibes, great drinks, friendly service — you can’t go wrong with a stop by this wonderful Waco gem.

No matter how long I’m gone, Waco always feels like home to me.

Even though I’ve been back in Dallas for three years (time flies!) I had a feeling I would run into a friend or two. I ended up running into four old friends, including a former church intern, a colleague, and a couple of sorority sisters. It was so fun to bump into friendly faces and catch up in brief conversations.

I made an intentional stop to see my dear friend Julianna to hear about her life and latest adventures. It’s always so nice to hear the good, bad and in-between updates that old friends are going through. It warms my heart and nourishes my soul.

I want to be like Waco to my friends and family.

I want to be a home away from home for my friends who are hurting or lost or struggling or even for friends who are doing fine. I want them to feel like I will always welcome and love and treasure them. I want to always be in their corner, to always be a hop, skip and a jump away from wherever they are, even if they’re thousands of miles away.

Dear friend, whoever you are and wherever you are, I hope you have a Waco. I hope you have somewhere you can escape and call home and feel loved. I hope you can be a Waco, too. To encourage and love and cherish others, to open your arms widely and freely and accept those who wander.

2018 Lessons & 2019 Resolutions

2019 is here.

It’s amazing how quickly 2018 came and went. A lot of life happened in that year, including becoming an aunt, going on my first solo trip and receiving my first promotion. Lots of good, bad and in-between.

Thankfully, 2018 didn’t leave me stagnant or stale. Instead, it sculpted me more into the person I would like to be. I’d like to share a few lessons I learned in 2018 that shape my current 2019 resolutions:

  1. Life is short — so I’ll say “I love you more.” Unfortunately, I lost three friends in 2018. It was a year of heartache and hurt because these friends passed. Their leaving only made me realize how truly valuable each moment is, so I’d like to affirm my friends and family by telling them I love them as often as I can.
  2. Life is fast — so I’ll pause more. As said, 2018 passed in the blink of an eye. Starting this January (and hopefully continuing in February), I’m going to only use my phone from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (excluding emergencies). I hope these unplugging hours will help me breathe and take more time for myself.
  3. Life is sweet — so I’ll savor it more. Similar to pausing, I’d like to soak up the sweetest of moments more. Take more pictures, write more words, remember more smiles, melt into hugs, spread more laughter.
  4. Life is great — so I’ll give thanks more. Hurt and heartache included, God is abundantly good to me. Though 2018 shared its difficulties and challenges, it also proved God’s provision never ceases. He doesn’t stop giving good things. I’d like to say thanks to Him and everyone around me more.
  5. Life is hard — so I’ll be more kind. After so much loss in 2018 (for both myself and friends and family), I realized just how you never know the hurt someone might be going through. Because of this, I’d like to share kind words and kind thoughts and kind actions.

2019 — it’ll be short and fast and sweet and great and hard.

It will be all of these things and so, so much more. I’m not sure what to expect or what to do or how to prepare for it. But I have hope and joy and peace that it will be a wonderful year, even if and when challenges arise.

I hope and pray you are having a wonderful start to this new year. I hope and pray for good things for you!

Peace & Blessings,

Mae

Self-Love: What It Is & What It’s Not

“Self-love.”

It’s a term that’s growing to be more and more common each day — or so it seems. It’s a term that captures just how important it is for us to be accepting of not only others, but also of ourselves: of our mind, body and spirit.

Many months ago, my friend & fellow blogger Whitney (the one-woman-show behind Flow & Favor) asked me, “What exactly is self-love? Because sometimes I think it’s yoga but other times I just want to eat chocolate.”

I’m no expert on relationships or dating and especially not marriage, but I do know a thing or two about self-love.

And to answer Whitney’s question: I think self-love can be both.

What it is:

Self-love is the act of caring for one’s own needs on spiritual, physical and emotional levels. Self-love practices self-care above others’ desires, not with the intent to be selfish, but in an attempt for self-preservation.

Self-love looks differently depending on the person, place and time. Though it’s universally valued, it’s not practiced in the same way across all humans.

In my life, self-love has manifested in many ways, including but not limited to:

  • Hiking
  • Praying during car rides
  • Spending time alone
  • Spending time with people I love
  • Reading a thought-provoking book
  • Eating out alone
  • Taking a nap
  • Going on a long drive
  • Crying
  • Laughing

The beauty of self-love is that it can mean lots of different things to lots of different people.

Let me tell you what it’s not.

Because self-love is an umbrella that holds together a vast amount of interests and activities, it is not simple. It is not confined. It is not restrained to a tiny, uniformed box.

Self-love isn’t only eating well and working out — though it can definitely be those things. It’s not eating chocolate cake and watching TV — though it can definitely be those as well.

It’s not one thing over the other, but a bunch of thoughts and actions that complement one another.

So why is self-love so important?

It’s important because we need to treat our brains and bodies better. It’s important because we need it in order to function well. It’s important because if we don’t care for ourselves, we can’t take care of others either.

So let’s just do it! Let’s laugh and cry and eat and fast and run and rest and travel and stay home. Let’s love ourselves and love others in bigger, better ways.

Grace & Peace To You: On Kindness Through Faith

“Grace and peace.”

This is how Paul greets the early churches in his letters from prison. These are the words Paul uses first and foremost to encourage fellow Christians.

Lately I need more grace and peace.

I need more grace and peace for myself.

I need to feel God’s good grace at the end of the day when I was mean or grumpy or fell into temptation. I need peace when I feel Satan’s lies haunting me and peace when I give in.

I need more grace and peace for others.

I need to give grace when others wrong me, when they hurt me and when they lie. I need to spread peace when I innately want to return hurt with hurt, I need to establish peace among friends, family, coworkers and even strangers.

It’s hard.

It’s hard in the middle of a long work day when I wake up on the wrong side of the bed and clients are mean and faxes aren’t going through.

It’s hard on the weekend when I go to one event after the next and leave little me-time to recover some lost social energy.

It’s hard when I fight with someone I love over something that’s simply not worth it, when the tension is thick and the voices rise.

It’s easy to be snooty and a little rude and to shrug off the slightly bothersome guy at work. It’s easy to cut someone off on the highway when traffic is awful. It’s easy to point fingers when someone is at fault.

But grace and peace, first and foremost.

Grace and peace to my brothers and sisters in Christ — to those who know and love the Lord deeply and fully and radically. Grace and peace to my friends and loved ones and strangers who do not walk with Him, but deserve just as much love and respect as anyone else.

Grace and peace to myself, grace and peace to others. First and foremost. Grace and peace.