Just Right, Just Write

Well, hello internet. It's been a while, huh? Yes, I'm still here. Despite a near two year absence. ;)

What have I been up to since I last posted? Well, how much time do you have? To put it lightly, the last two years have held more change and growth than the first four of my twenties combined. And I'm so, so grateful for that. For a long time in my adolescence, I resisted change and clung to the things that made me feel comfortable and safe. It wasn't really until late spring 2016 that I finally gathered the courage to take the leap into the unknown and put some scary, necessary things into action. Once I did, though, the world opened up to me in a way it never had before.

The catalyst to all this change was the overwhelming feeling that this - where I was at that point in my life - couldn't be all there was. My life was fine, but it didn't thrill me. It was a quiet existence, marked by morning exercise, daytime work, and evenings of alone time. I was scared to put myself out there, and honestly didn't even know where to begin.

Then, seemingly all at once, a series of events made it impossible for me to stay inactive. Life, probably tired of me waiting around for something to happen, gave me the tough-love push I needed. In the course of two months I adopted puppy, ended my high school relationship, moved into a new apartment, started a new job, and met someone who is now one of my very closest friends. It was just as scary and overwhelming as I thought it would be, but wonderful just the same.

Summer 2016 held a lot. A lot of fun, a lot of newness, a lot of learning and unlearning. For the first time since I was 17, I found myself dating someone new. For the first time since moving to Charleston, I found myself going on almost-daily adventures around town while getting to know a new friend. For the first time since graduating college, I found myself navigating the waters of a leadership position at a brand new job.

I'll remember that crazy summer fondly for the rest of my life. It was the first time in a long time that I felt like was awake- making active decisions and purposefully walking down a new path. I felt so proud of myself for taking the drivers seat in my life once again. For refusing to settle for comfortable and pushing myself to try new things. I simultaneously felt like an adult, living life on my own terms, and an unsupervised kid in a candy store, eyes wide, trying everything and anything that caught my eye.

I hope everyone has a season like this in their life. A season for trying and, very often, failing. A season where you don't let fear stop you from making some risky decisions. A season where, quite honestly, you're selfish- figuring out what makes you feel happy and fulfilled (and more importantly, what doesn't). It's these times that guide you to who you really are and who you want to be as an adult. Without them, you stay stuck - the one thing that scares me more than failure and disappointment.

Things calmed down a bit after that summer, but I was definitely changed forever. I realize some behaviors that weren't serving my highest purpose, and left them behind. I also realized some things I was newly passionate about and wanted to continue to explore. I changed jobs again, traveled a lot, and slowly but surely refined the wildness of the summer into something more manageable. Still pushing the boundaries, but also realizing that boundaries are sometimes good and necessary.

If I could sum up the next season - most of 2017 - in one phrase it would be this: "listen to your gut". For a long, long time I had this feeling, this thought that I just couldn't shake and had to continually work to ignore. I became an expert at convincing myself that what I was doing was the right thing and that this gut feeling was wrong. Looking back, it's honestly saddening that I wasn't brave or sure of myself enough to act on it the first time I felt it.

However, it was such a lesson because ultimately my gut feeling was 100% accurate. It took me a little over a year to finally accept and act on my intuition, but in that time I learned a valuable lesson that I'll carry with me for the rest of my life. If I could tell you anything, it would be that your instincts mean something. If you can't stop thinking about something, even if it's scary and leads to an unknown future, it means something. Please don't wait years before acting on it.

When I finally acted on the decision I'd been fighting so long, the world opened up once again. It's truly amazing how, when you stop fighting the path the universe is urging you to follow, things naturally fall into place. After so many experiences like this, I've become a deep believer in manifestation- that you get from the world what you believe in and seek out.

The second half of 2017 was all about developing amazing friendships, being single for the first extended time since I was a teenager, and learning more about myself than I had before. For once, I didn't run from loneliness or sadness or unrest. I sat in those feelings, processed them, and grew up a lot in the process. Self-care and a spending time alone in order to get to know yourself is so necessary and valuable. I'm so grateful to have had this season of personal growth and development.

So far, 2018 has been one of the best years I've ever experienced. It's honestly felt like the culmination of so many years of self exploration- of trying and failing and making mistakes and course correcting. One late-January afternoon, after years of wanting to live downtown, my roommate and I found the most adorable apartment (it has a porch!) with a landlord who was, shockingly, willing to hold for us until May. That same evening, I went on the best first date of my life with an amazing guy who is now boyfriend. It's like, after all those years of refusing to settle, the universe was finally saying "yes, this is where you're supposed to be- enjoy it". I'm incredibly grateful and not taking a single second of it for granted.

Sitting here now, at twenty-six (and a half!) years old, I feel at once settled and anticipatory. I'm blessed with some incredible friends, a great apartment, a boyfriend who is better than anyone I could have dreamed up. At the same time, though, things are in the midst of shifting and changing. Some close friends are considering making big moves, some are newly engaged. Some are starting new jobs or taking big trips. Personally, I'm in the midst of a career change and trying to figure out what my next professional steps will be. So many things feel like they're about to happen. Like we're the brink of so much. It's a season I already know I'll look back on fondly.

In a way, it feels like a season characterized as one last hurrah of being a "young" adult. My close friends are starting to get married, taking jobs with more responsibility, graduating from Master's programs and starting new careers. They're about to start buying houses and making  "grown up" decisions- it's a lot. At one point in my life this would have overwhelmed me, but I honestly feel ready for what's ahead. Getting older is weird for sure, but I've found there comes a point where you just know it's the right time to take the next step.

Why? Because there's nothing scarier to me than being "stuck"- stuck in a job you hate, in a city, you've outgrown, in a relationship that doesn't lift you up, in a mindset that doesn't serve you. I'm a little self-help/improvement obsessed and truly believe in constantly evaluating yourself and changing things to grow into the person you're meant to be.

In the last couple months, I've realized (for the millionth time) I feel most like "myself" when I'm writing and sharing my heart/encouraging others- letting them know they're not alone. It's my favorite thing. The thing I'm most proud of. The thing that makes my heart beat faster. The thing I could spend countless hours doing without even realizing a minute had passed.

I believe that everyone is born with something unique to contribute to the world. Something that the world needs that only they can give. We're not here, on this planet at this time in history, by accident. Even if it seems silly, if it brings you joy and fills you up, it's valuable. You are valuable. Your voice, your contribution, your life- matter. More than you can grasp.

Long(gggg) story short: despite falling away and starting again, my goal is to begin writing and sharing here more frequently. I've cycled through seasons of writing and not writing plenty of times, but this time feels different. Mostly because I'm with someone who constantly encourages me to get back into the practice of getting my thoughts on paper (err, screen), solely because he knows how much it means to me. I'm so, so deeply grateful for that.

So! Here's to new beginnings. To a new season. To growing and changing for the millionth time. It feels so right, to write. ;) See you soon!

- Lanie W.


Getting Back to Basics

Well, hello again blog world! It's been almost 4 months since I last posted here and it's safe to say a lot has happened in that relatively short amount of time. I turned 24, got a dog, parted ways with my long term boyfriend, moved into a new apartment, started a new job, traveled to Chicago, Atlanta, and Los Angeles, had a reunion with my college best friends (after 2 years apart), started freelancing for a magazine, etc, etc, etc. I'll spare you the rest but suffice it to say, it's been a crazy time. Fun and new, but crazy and unsettled at the same time.

In all this change and upheaval there's been certainly been goodness and growth, but also a lot of confusion and (what feels like) backsliding. I'm really grateful for the way my life is playing out and everything new I'm getting to experience and how much fun I've been having, but my ability to put rose colored glasses on the past can be a challenge. This isn't saying I want to go back to how things used to be in a former season of my life, but honestly (and it's hard to admit this) I feel like I've been a better person previously than I am right now.

Moving into a new season of life and trying to figure out how to navigate it "successfully" isn't an easy task, and I'm afraid it's lead to me putting blinders on and focusing way too much on myself. Back when things felt more normal and settled I had the time and space to look around me and be more mindful. I prided myself on helping others to feel better and encouraging my friends/family to look on the positive side of life. I would much rather be the one putting joy into others lives than being someone who stays in her lane and doesn't give her energy and love to the people and world around her.

I've even found it harder to find as much joy in the little things that used to make me happy, like a quiet, beautiful morning or good book. I've felt distracted, caught up in my own head- constantly thinking about my life and how things are going- the next plans I have or who I'm going to hang out with. Not that being busy and having a full social life is a bad thing (I've had more fun and adventures this summer than I have in a long time) but I worry I've placed too much importance on external stimulation rather than internal contentment.

For most of my life I've definitely considered myself an introvert. I felt most relaxed and content just hanging by myself- reading or writing or taking a long walk. I'm not sure why I've felt so pulled to be around other people, but for the past few months I've found that I'm mainly just bored and lonely when I'm by myself/not out doing something. I'm not sure how or why this shifted, but I know that I don't want to lose that part of myself. I love my independence and ability to be content on my own without relying on others- it's one of the main things that makes me me. 

I'm honestly not even sure where this blog post is going, but it's just something I felt I had to write/process/get out of my head. I suppose the point is this- regardless of the season of life I'm in I don't want to lose myself, the core things that make me who I am, in the shuffle. But I also don't want to cling to the past and resist change. How do you stay grounded when everything else is in your life has been turned upside down (in both good and bad ways) while still being open and accepting newness/change? I'm trying to figure this out, but like everything else I've experienced in this world of "adulthood", I don't think there's a right or wrong answer.

What I do know is this: moving forward I want to get back to basics, to the less-self centered version of myself. I want to lift my head up and notice/appreciate the people and world around me. I want to read and learn and write and challenge myself personally on a regular basis. I want to be a positive light to people in my life. I want to be okay with being alone and still. I want to grow in a meaningful way and get back to my faith on a deeper level. My life has been revolving around the wrong things and I'm grateful that I've been able to realize this and actively make a point to change it for the better. The joke of the summer is that I'm the "new Lanie", but I don't want to completely lose the "old Lanie" in the meantime. Trying to figure out how to blend the good parts of both the new and old me isn't easy, but I'm going to be mindful about it and give it my best shot.

I'm so grateful for my life- the people, where I live, my pup, the health of my friends and family, my passions, etc. Things may not be perfect (and let's be real, they never will be) but I'm figuring it out as I go and am thankful to have this space to explore and share my thoughts as I do. If you've read this far, I'm impressed and thank you! I'd love to hear any similar struggles you've had or advice on how to reconcile staying true to yourself in the midst of change. xoxoxo

-Lanie W.


An Ode to Springtime

I've always considered myself a bit of a nature nerd. While some people go about their lives not really noticing their natural surroundings, I take the opposite approach and am probably a bit too observant. You can often find me stopped dead in my tracks gawking at a sunrise or sunset (which can make going on a walk with me a bit annoying I'm sure- sorry friends!). Standing in the morning light watching the day come to life feels like getting a hug from an old friend. The way the soft sunlight filters through the trees or a gentle breeze rustles new spring leaves makes me positively giddy. One glance at my Instagram (@laniemw) and you'll see that photos of flowers, trees, and water outnumber photos of people 10 to 1.

Growing up and living in the lowcountry, surrounded by the marsh and palmetto trees and garden-filled cities like Charleston and Savannah, is such a gift and I treasure each day I get to spend here. My soul and this little part of the world are truly one in the same- I feel completely intertwined with the sweeping landscapes and delicate intricacies that make up the South Carolina coast. While I appreciate the nuances that accompany each of the four seasons here, every time spring arrives I realize that it's where my heart truly lies.

My birthday is April 3rd- I'm an Aries born in the heart of springtime. I know it sounds silly, but I honestly feel like my heart and soul are connected to spring and nature in a deep, unexplainable way. I never gave this feeling too much thought- I just accepted that it was how I'm wired  and went about my life. However, on my walk this morning I had a realization- the blooming and stirring and coming to life of nature in spring is so special to me because feels like my yearly birthday gift from the Lord- like it's all happening especially for me.

There are so many soul-saturating opportunities to experience the truth of the Gospel in nature it blows my mind. To see a barren tree without a single green leaf suddenly spring to life over night is one of the most poignant examples of the love, grace, provision and power of Jesus I can imagine. I am reminded of and filled up by Him every time I sit and listen to the birds sing, when I see a new flower that wasn't there the day before, when I feel the sunshine on my face or the breeze in my hair, when I sit by the water and marvel at its vast, deep endlessness. He isn't an abstract thought or person from a story in the Bible- He's there, He's all around, He's present and active every moment- it never fails to give me chills and the deepest sense of gratitude.

I don't believe in coincidences. I know that I was born in springtime because it's the time nature is the most in your face and obvious- demanding to be noticed and appreciated. When what was dead and dormant comes screaming to life and color and fullness again you simply have to stop and let yourself experience it- experience Him. I'll never get over my nature/springtime obsession, and I'm so thankful that the Lord planted this connection to Him + His amazing creation in my heart.

-Lanie W.


Don't Call It A Comeback

So, I'm realizing (for the umpteenth time) that I miss my blog/blogging. I miss the ritual of re-capping tidbits of my life, sharing what's inspiring me, and just writing on a frequent basis. The problem is, I don't really know what to make this space about. I'm in SUCH a different place in my life than I was in 2012, about to start my Junior year of college (sidenote: I can't believe this blog is going to turn 4 years old in July- so crazy). I have different passions, priorities, ideas, beliefs, desires, etc. In light of that, I want this space to keep growing and changing as I learn and get older, but I don't really know how to make that happen in a fluid way.

I've said it a million times, but being a (young) "adult" is weird. It's fuzzy and unclear 99% of the time. It's setting out on a journey without even knowing your destination- like the people back in Columbus' time who tried to find the edge of the earth/new land. We step off the secure, easily navigable land of childhood/school/college, get into a boat, and push off into the wild ocean without a single clue how the journey will go, when we'll arrive, or even if we'll ever get somewhere. How are we supposed to reconcile that this never-ending, life-long journey to a destination we don't know even exists is just "how it is"? I suppose my type-a, planner side doesn't help me cope in this shifting scenario, but I digress.

The good, life-changing news is we're all in this weird, (seemingly) directionless boat together- and the person steering the boat (Jesus) knows our destination. He knows exactly where we're going, when we'll arrive, when we'll encounter storms and when we'll drift peacefully underneath blue skies. I'm the first to admit that putting faith in our Captain seems impossibly hard sometimes. We just want access to the map that lays out exactly where our path will take us and how long it will take to get there. But, I'm learning, that isn't how life works. We're just along for the journey and have to do our best along the way. That's the only thing we know- we're on an adventure and our Captain is more than capable of keeping us safe. He isn't promising our sailing will always be struggle-free, but he is promising that he'll never abandon the ship. He's here for the long haul- no matter what, and he invites us to lean on Him for constant support. The best part is that he's infinitely capable of taking care of us if we simply put our trust and faith in Him every single day.  I don't know about you, but knowing Jesus is, and always will be, at the helm is the most peace-giving truth I've ever known. <3

If anything, starting this second full year post-college has made me feel less adult than I did when I first got a job/apartment/moved to a new city. It seems like my friends and I are all feeling restless and ready for new things- new apartments, new cities, new jobs, etc. We're all on the brink of something, without knowing what that something will be. Regardless of where this year takes me and what I decide to write about, here's what I want my internet presence to be: honest. In college you think that once you graduate and become an "adult" that everything will work out and you'll magically feel "grown up". But here's the thing- life isn't always tropical vacations and promotions and a great salary with benefits. It's hard work and there are new obstacles to tackle every single day. However, I've found that acknowledging the ebb and flow of good/bad can be cathartic. When we're vulnerable and share our truths we can actually heal and help one another. We're all going through this weird experience of life together, but only when we take down our protective walls of curated "perfection" can we can truly support each other. It's not easy, but opening up and being real with each other really makes life infinitely more connected/sweet.

I suppose I'll just start where I am- by simply making the commitment to post at least once a week. I can't promise that what I'll be posting about will even be interesting to read, but I'm at the point where I don't really care about my "stats" or number of followers- I just want to write and honor the part of myself that truly enjoys blogging to blog. SO- that's where I'm at. I'm going to attempt to redeem my sub-par 2015 blogging frequency and attempt to regain my discipline/passion for sharing my thoughts through writing. Here goes nothing!


- Lanie W.