Thoughts on Life at 23

You know that feeling when you haven't seen someone (a friend, a significant other, etc.) in a long time and you finally reunite? The butterflies, the surge of nervous energy, the anticipation? When I finally sat down to write something for my little abandoned corner of the internet that's the feeling that came over me. I'm honestly a little nervous about this for some reason. I find it kind of strange that I spent the past few years writing and sharing things here on a consistent basis. (Sidenote: this is going to be more than a little ramble-y, you've been warned).

It's been 3 months since I last wrote a post here. A lot has happened since then- working, traveling to Atlanta/ North Carolina/Clemson/my hometown/St. Louis, going to concerts (James Taylor + Ed Sheeran <3), attending a Braves game, an art show, two weddings, hip hop dance classes, playing in a glow in the dark Bocce Ball league (lol), hanging out with friends new and old. I find myself itching for a change, but not knowing what that change should/could be. Part of me wonders if it's the fact that my brain is sill programmed to work in 9 month increments at a time since that's the way my life was structured from ages 6 to 22. Or it could be that I'm ready for something different because that's the stage of life I'm in. I could choose to really put down roots or I could shift directions completely and go somewhere/do something brand new.

The scary (somewhat annoying) thing about shifting into life as an "adult" (whatever that means) is that there's no right answer or pre-determined path to take. I'm halfway through my 23rd year and I almost feel like I'm unlearning everything I knew to be "true" for the first half of my life and relearning how to exist in the world every day. Growing up has been a cycle of breaking down and re-forming my core ideas, views on the world, and way I live my life. Everything used to seem so black and white, but things are increasingly blurry and confusing as the days pass.

I read an article from Elite Daily dissecting why being 23 feels so weird that said "Science shows that your brain is on the tail-end of its mental peak, taken differently, it's at the beginning of mental decline. Your prefrontal cortex, the part that controls emotional responses, is at its height of formation -- making us crazy with feelings. The rest of your brain, however, is retaining information it thinks it'll use and clearing out the rest." I can definitely relate- my brain/emotions feels spazzy and shifty a lot of the time.

I'm happy knowing I'm not the only one going through this. My friends and I constantly talk about how this stage of life is so weird/unsettling 85% of the time. With the shiny highlight-reel that is social media constantly playing out snippets of "perfect" lives in front of our faces 24/7, our instincts tell us to join the masses and act like we're totally killing it- that we have gorgeous apartments, happy relationships, passion-filled careers, busy social lives, etc. But when we're really honest with each other we admit that everything isn't great all the time. It's so refreshing to read an article or Instagram post that admits life isn't all avocado toast and fun vacations- sometimes it's hard and dark and twisty and makes zero sense.

Sometimes I'm not sure that I'll ever feel settled, satisfied, or "adult". I laugh at my 18 year old self who thought mid-twenties Lanie would be "grown up" and have it all together. But you know what? I'm realizing more and more that it's okay that I don't. I've been learning (the hard way) to give myself, and others, grace. Grace to be young and to not have it all together. Grace to change and shift and grow every day. Grace to screw up and make the wrong choices. Grace to actually sit with sad, confused, or contemplative feelings instead of pushing them away. Grace to know that life is a marathon, not a sprint, and that I don't have to constantly strive for some unattainable cultural expectation of adulthood - I can just live. Why? Because Jesus. He's already done the work. We're loved and saved and safe in Him without having to do anything other than trust Him and profess Him as our Lord. *Cue the world's biggest relieved exhale* - I truly couldn't do life without my relationship with Him. I'm realizing more and more that my neediness in this stage of life is probably there to teach me to trust in and rely on Him rather than my own "strength" or "life plan". And even though it's harder than those stretches of life where I've felt strong and in control I wouldn't change it, because I'm closer to Him now than ever before. I'm getting first hand experience that when we are weak, He is strong. And that's sweeter than anything I could imagine.

I'm type-A. I like working towards a goal, I like a list, I like checking things off and hitting milestones in a certain timetable. Letting go, holding my plans loosely, and trusting that His path for me is better than anything I cold possibly dream up is hard, but it's so worth it. I'm learning that more and more each day. Growing pains aren't easy, but life isn't supposed to be easy. It's supposed to be a journey that leads us closed to Him. Praise God for that. If this season of life is leading me to Him then I accept all the changes and weirdness with open arms. I don't/won't understand everything, but I'm not supposed to and, best of all, I'm not expected to. I'm so thankful that my worth isn't pinned on what I do, but what He has already done for me.

So, that's a small peek at where I'm at and where I've been. I truly want to start writing here on a consistent basis. Sharing my thoughts through writing is so important to my heart and soul. Other than dancing, it's my favorite way to find release- it makes me feel like me. My hope is to start posting at least once a week - so stay tuned. xoxo

-Lanie W.


Thoughts on "Bittersweet"

I remember reading somewhere that a good, thought-provoking book can change you. That it can make you into a new, different person who carries the lessons and thoughts from the author the rest of your life. I never really understood this concept until I read two books by Shauna Niequist. First, Cold Tangerines and then, because I couldn't get enough of her rawness, honesty, and thought-churning brilliance, Bittersweet. I just finished the latter and I already want to drive straight to the bookstore to purchase her newly released book, Savor.

Very few thing in this day and age connect with me and spur me to truly think- to sit with my thoughts and consider ideas and feelings both new and old. Ever since I graduated college (with an English degree- hello) I've, embarrassingly, read very few books. For those few years reading took on the persona of obligation, achievement, and something that kept me from what I really wanted to be doing (aka hanging out with my friends, vegging out watching ABC Family, eating frozen yogurt until my stomach hurt- totally things that would help me grow as a person #lol). These days, since I work in social media, I look at a screen more than anything else. I thought I would be so happy to be rid of reading lists full of books that literally made my brain hurt to try and comprehend, but I'm now realizing what a luxury that was and how much I miss it. To be told to read books that creep into your consciousness and change the way you view the world- what a gift. If you're in college, please appreciate this phase of your life!

These days I (shamefully) spend time that I could (should) be reading, looking at a screen. I work, exercise, come home and pretty much turn off my brain until I go to sleep. Rise, repeat, over and over. But that's not the way I want to live my life. I don't want it to be a fog of emails and social media and sitting in front of the tv. I want it to be full of thought and growth and change. In the past month I've read more than I have in a year, and I think I have summer to thank for that. I've always seen summer as the time of reading "for fun" as cliché as that sounds. In the last 10 years, laying on the beach or by the pool, I've read thousands of pages of light, fluffy, generally unchallenging prose. But in two books, less than 800 pages between them, I've learned more about the world, God, life, love, pain, beauty, and myself than all of those other books put together. And I'm so, so thankful.

Shauna is phenomenal in a completely different way than one would expect of a brilliant writer. She isn't reaching for the most glamorous, dramatic, page-turning stories or ideas. She's taking life- real, meaty, messed up human life- and explaining it in a way that's more poignant than anything I've ever read by an obscure scholar, prize-winning author, or celebrated professor. During/after reading her books my brain is a flurry of activity and thought and my heart is full and swirling with newly inspired/tilled up emotion. It brings me back to who I am and challenges me to think about how I'm living and who I'm becoming. We're kindred spirits, Shauna and I. We're both former English majors who love to read and write. We love celebrations, holidays, and traditions; being the one to create situations that make other people happy. We like to be the entertainers, leaders, problem-solvers, and smile generators. We love community and gathering everyone around one another in genuine fellowship.

Yet her books also taught me that even though our personalities are hardwired to cultivate/celebrate the happy things of life- we have to realize that everything can't and won't always be sunshine and smiles. I have a hard time settling into unpleasant feeling and less than ideal situations. I like to gloss over the hard stuff, push it to the back of my mind, and focus on things that make me happy, things I can "control". I like to be the one who changes the subject when things get tense/sad/emotional. I like to think I can help steer the ship and avoid pain, both for myself and others, by shutting down topics that I know will generate less than positive feelings. I don't like to sit in uncomfortable feelings and have difficult conversations- but then again who does? On some level I'd rather put a peppy pink bandaid over the situation than do the work to actually bind up the wound. I thought this was a fine way to go about life until reading her books- Bittersweet in particular. Her words and thoughts completely moved me and I'm forever changed and better for it. I'm more real and honest with myself. More in touch with my actual feelings rather than ignoring the hard stuff in favor of the happy/easy. I feel more like myself and nothing like myself at the same time. That's what brilliant writing does.

This year out of college has made me realize that life is a journey that's not straight or simple. It's completely different than the way you exist for the first 22 years of your life, moving from grade to grade, working toward the next goal. You don't always move from one expected milestone to the next; you don't get to continually check off the next item on your life "to-do" list. But I'm also realizing and appreciating that, even though it would be easier that way, I don't want to/expect to live a perfect, perpetually unchallenging life at all. I fully realize that the journey will be great and hard, soul-filling and soul-crushing, light and dark. I've lived through some of the dark times already- I've experienced the sting of failures and pain and loss. But I've also experienced the joy and fun and lightness that can spring up in the next moment. Of course it would be wonderful for everyone to never be sad or uncomfortable or in pain, but that isn't why we're on earth. Without pain we wouldn't be able to recognize joy. And I'm thankful for that. I know that life isn't perfect or free from pain and sorrow, but it isn't supposed to be- that's what Heaven is for.

I'm grateful in the deepest level of my soul to know that God is with us, holding us, comforting us in each and every dark time. He is most present and real in the lowest and hardest of times. When the family member is lost, when a murderer harms innocent people, when an unexpected diagnosis occurs- God shines brightest. It's when the merry train of life, that usually chugs along without any major problem, comes to a sudden halt that He is most present.

Shauna put words to my feelings and opened my eyes to an entirely new way of thinking and living and I'm so, so grateful to her for being brave enough to share her stories in a raw way. Reading her books isn't easy. Her challenging words churn up the hard stuff that I usually ignore; her truths about life force me to lay it all out on the table and work through the things I've pushed away. What a gift. I pray that I have the courage to do the same- to openly share my stories in a way that makes people think and draw closer to God. Shauna- you're great. Please never stop writing and sharing your voice with the world!

-Lanie W.


Savoring Summer

So, I blogged twice in June. That's the least I've posted in a month since I started this little blog three years ago (just realized my blog-aversary is coming up on the 22nd!) - and to be honest I'm kind of content with that. My 9-5 consists of so much online/social media work that I've been making a point to step away from the computer when I'm off the clock. The act of balancing the different parts of my life (work/personal/creative/spiritual/etc) is a constant challenge and almost a year into this new season of life I'm still figuring out how to make everything flow together in a way that leaves me content and happy rather than stressed, over-scheduled, and burnt out.

The good side of this imbalance is that the less I post online the more I live my real life and experience the world. Here's a peek at what my summer has consisted of since I've stepped away from the keyboard:

Visited the ancient Angel Oak Tree 

Watched "The Notebook" on the beach underneath a full moon

Attended the Spoleto finale concert at Middleton Plantation with my brother and fun friends 

Roadtripped to Carowinds to ride roller coasters

Had an evening picnic date at the beach

Happy hour-ed at The Americano with my Charleston Blog Society pals

Attended the #BridgeofUnity walk in honor of the Emanuel 9 <3

Chased the sunset during evening bike rides

Spent a fun, relaxing 4th of July in the river with old and new friends

It sounds cliché, but I truly can't believe the summer is moving by so quickly! I'm making a point to slow down and savor this sweet, sticky season while it lasts.  I'm living the rest of this season on purpose, with my eyes wide open- full of gratitude for the sweet, simple joys of summer- beach trips, new books, cold treats, fresh fruit, bike rides, warm breezes, iced coffee, bright sunsets, and everything little thing in between. xo 

-Lanie W.



Last night I biked over to Shem Creek to watch the sunset around 8:30. I stood there admiring the way the pastel colors in the evening sky were reflected by the slow moving waters of the marsh below. Birds flew lazily overhead, hermit crabs scurried about- I felt at one with the world and its creatures. It was extraordinarily peaceful and my heart felt full and at rest. I was safe and at home in this low country scene that's surrounded me for most of my life.

It's so hard to imagine that at that same time a murderer was sitting in a Church just miles away, plotting his vicious attack on innocent people. Tragedies are terrible no matter where they occur, but when one happens in your city, home, and happy place.. it hits you so much more deeply and personally.

The only peace I can find in this that these kind, innocent people are with their Lord and Savior now and free of the terrors of this world. My deepest and most sincere prayers, thoughts, and love go out to the victims, their families/friends, and the entire city of Charleston. Religious freedom is what our country was built on, and to think that we aren't safe in our places of worship is too heart-breaking to consider. Lord, be with us all during this tumultuous time in our world. We need Your grace and peace now more than ever. <3


Life As Of Late

Rabbit, rabbit- happy June everyone! I seriously feel like I blinked and the last two weeks of May flew by. It's been a blur of work, fun events, and enjoying the start of summer weather in Charleston. No complaints here! Here's a look at what I've been up to-

Met @LionelTheHog at our monthly Charleston Blog Society - he's even cuter in person!

Attended a fun event at J McLaughlin with some of my favorite Charleston blogger babes

Memorial Day Weekend beach sesh (complete with Açaí bowls!) with Emily + Annie <3

Riverdogs game to finish out the holiday weekend - love the view of the sunset from their stadium!

A farewell dinner with May (at Leons) - can't believe she's moving to Chicago in August to get her masters!

Post dinner walk in the old village with Makenzie :) 

Adventuring in Savannah, GA with the boy - always love spending time in this charming city! 

Couldn't get over this chair/pillow situation a thet Paris Market (aka my favorite store in Sav). #swoon

Hope your lives have been full of good things as well! Looking forward to a fun, sunny, adventure-filled month ahead. Bring it on June! xo

-Lanie W.


Good Things

Sigh, what a wonderful weekend! I'm continually so thankful that we get a few free days to relax, explore, and spend time recharging each week. I truly appreciate them more and more as I get older!

This weekend was especially awesome because I got to spend it with my boyfriend favorite human. We're currently long distance, so our time together is rare and cherished more than usual. We had such a wonderful few days together laughing, dancing, golfing (well, him teaching me how to golf lol), and enjoying each others company. Here's a little photographic look at our weekend:

Party at the point Friday night // band + views of the harbour = yes.
 Post-golf lesson nomming at Rita's on Folly
epic nachos con watermelon salsa :D
 Folly beach packed with peeps enjoying the sunshine
 the happiest humans :)
 crazy amazing view coming home from the beach - Charleston, you're perfect
 gorgeous evening in my neighorhood for Shaggin On The Cooper
SO much fun shagging the night away to awesome tunes with my favorite dance partner!
gorgeous blooms on a TJ's run *heart eye emoji*
a little Sunday shopping (so thankful for my patient fella for putting up with me <3) - ps I bought both pairs :D
how we feel about the weekend being over :| #boolongdistance

How was your weekend? :)

-Lanie W.


Being Quiet

I'll be honest, I sat down a few times this week and attempted to blog but nothing felt quite right or authentic, so I didn't post. I've been struggling a bit with where I'm seeking strength, mental clarity, heart-filling peace, and sufficiency. I'm 100% a type-a person. I like a plan, I like checking things off a list, I like the feeling of accomplishment. Lately, however, my typical actions/routines have left me feeling fruitless, empty, drained of energy- kind of like a dried up sponge.

I've had a million half-baked emotions and half-baked thoughts going through my head, but nothing that felt connected or made me feel that satisfying spark. I've been stretching myself between focusing on my work, trying to spend time with friends, keeping up a regular exercise routine, and attempting to have a little down time that doesn't involve a screen (ha). It probably seems on the surface like I'm getting everything done and keeping it together, but inside I feel like I've been furiously spinning my wheels and going nowhere.

Have you ever been there? Your life seems like it's going fine by human standards; there are no real problems or dramatic situations, work is good, but you still feel a bit lifeless and like something isn't quite right or real? I think when we reach this point it's God's way of saying "Hey you, this broken human world doesn't have anything that's going to fix that feeling you have. Stop looking for earthly places to find your joy, peace, inspiration, and accomplishment because nothing will every satisfy those intangible desires of your heart other than deep connection and communication with Me." Woah.

I woke up early this morning with the intention of going for a run. Instead, I found myself laying in bed, being still, quieting my mind and reading the devotional I had put aside this week because I didn't "have time". It was exactly what my heart needed. It flipped a switch. I had an "aha" moment. My soul finally felt nourished in a real way.

I opened my Bible to a random page and read this verse in Ecclesiastes 4:6 - "Better to have one handful with quietness than two handfuls with hard work and chasing the wind." Wow- exactly what I needed to hear. That was my problem- I've been "chasing the wind", striving for worldly achievement. Somehow my goals had shifted to focus on the kind of earthly success that's measured by the standard of humans.

How did I slip into this mindset so easily? By worldly standards this seems like this is the right way to live life, but desperately "chasing the wind" will always leave me exhausted and un-fulfilled. The world says we need to work hard and measure our lives by human "accomplishment"- a promotion, a raise, the 1st place trophy, the star next to your name- but what will these earthly things give us in the end? Nothing.

When we slow down and let quietness fill our hearts- when we take the time to do the work for our souls, that's where we'll find what we've been "chasing". That's where true contentment and peace and overwhelming JOY and eternal significance are found.

If you've been feeling confused because, although your life seems to be going perfectly fine, you don't feel that soul-stirring satisfaction, perhaps you need to reframe what you're working towards. Stop chasing the wind and human accomplishment and realize that everything we do/achieve here will eventually cease to matter. He is the source of that illusive, energy-giving spark that we work so hard to find.

So today (and every day) let's rest in the truth that we don't have to toil our lives away to find true contentment. By being still, quieting our minds, and surrendering our humanly ambition to The Lord we'll finally get that missing "thing" we've been searching for.

Wishing you a restful, re-charging weekend friend!

-Lanie W.


Look For Less: Leather Mules

A year ago I would have laughed at myself for even considering purchasing these shoes. I really didn't get the whole 90's shoe/ugly shoe/etc trend when it first came about. Lately, however, my style has really been evolving and changing. I suppose it's a natural side-effect of getting older combined with graduating college and moving to a new city. Whatever the reason, I've come around to this look in a big way. Gotta love how things can change, eh? :)

During one of my many post work shopping trips on King St. (so dangerous to work here) I came across the J. Crew Marlow Mules and fell in love with their un-fussy, chic vibe. The style is such a fun alternative for the typical heels/wedges I wear throughout the warmer months. However, this post-grad budget can't really swing almost $200 for a pair of shoes, so I left broken hearted empty handed.

Fast forward to a different post-work shopping trip last week. I walked into Urban Outfitters to browse and kill time before attending an outdoor movie event nearby. After looking around I discovered their Sloan Mules- a doppleganger for the pair I had been coveting from J. Crew! I tracked down the last pair in my size, tried them on, and immediately walked to the register. Comfy, stylish, and a full $100 less than the pair I originally wanted? Sold!

Leather Mules

Always exciting when something like this happens! Have you found any great style steals lately? If so, please share! Happy weekending! xoxo

-Lanie W.


Put Your Heart Into It

Yesterday as we were wrapping up a meeting one of my bosses turned to me and said "Thank you for your hard work. I really think you have your heart in this". I smiled because it meant something I decided to do months ago was actually noticeable to other people.

For her to see recognize something I've been trying to do every single day was definitely one of the nicest compliments ever and the first answer that came to mind (after genuinely thanking her), was "is there any other way to be?".

After graduating college the reality that I would be working for the rest of my life hit me all at once. Envisioning this large expanse of time spent working (almost) every single day was a bit intimidating, especially coming from the structured world of school where you take life semester by semester, six months at a time.

During the midst of this overwhelming post-graduation life confusion I stumbled upon Colossians 3:23 and suddenly everything clicked. The verse states "whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if working for The Lord, not for human masters". Wow- what a perfect answer to the overwhelming fear I had about transitioning from school to the professional world. It all became so simple- when we put God first in all that we do, including our work, we have to put our heart into it.

Living and working for Him (not earthly gain/recognition/money/etc) means we have to invest our soul and energy at the most basic level. What other option is there? Otherwise we spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year passively, unemotionally going through the motions of life and work. Where is the fun in that? Where is the energy-giving, life-affirming passion in that? I decided to shift my focus from the length of time I would spend working to the quality of life I would be living by focusing on Him.

Every day I really try (I say try because I'm so human and fall short all the time) to do my best work, not for myself or even other people, but for Him. When I do that, my heart is invested without even realizing it. I truly care about doing my best, not for a grade or a promotion or a raise or a pat on the back, but because I want to give myself to whatever I'm doing 100%. I want my heart to be an active participant in all that I do.

Now, to be completely transparent I do really enjoy my job. I realize that putting your heart into a career that you don't look forward to doing every day is a lot harder. I have close friends in that situation and I truly wish I could snap my fingers and put them in a job that they love and deserve. Regardless, I think we can all learn from Colossians 3:23. We can risk putting our heart into something by keeping our eyes on Him and working not for the world and what is seen, but what is un-seen. That's where our lives get their real mojo- the buzz and excitement deep inside to wake up every day, drink some coffee, and go out into the world to do our best.

That's really what this life boils down to- imperfect humans trying to do their best every day. We fail, and let's be honest we will keep failing again and again, but His grace keeps us going. Grace and forgiveness and love keeps us from staying down when we fall. Knowing that truth, I'm going to keep working for Him. I'm going to keep putting my heart into my work and life, because in the end He is and will be all that matters- so why not fully invest in that? :)

What do you put your heart into? Your work? Your side passion project? I'd love to hear!

-Lanie W.


Soaking Up Spring

Charleston has seriously hit its stride as far as springtime weather is concerned. It feels like every day is more gorgeous than the last- I'm talking clear blue skies, no humidity (!), warm sunshine and a light breeze. The past week has been gorgeous and I've been soaking up every minute possible outdoors. Some activities I've added to the agenda to take advantage of this pre-summer heat season include:

dining al fresco with the boy:
 going on long post-work/workout walks downtown...
and in my neighborhood
attending outdoor movies in Marion Square:

What are you favorite ways to enjoy this time of year?

-Lanie W.


The Southern C Summit: Recap

I'll admit something nerdy- I love learning. I'm talking real, honest to goodness, "I'm dying to know more about this subject, please teach me" learning- not the type of disengaging "learning" you experienced in school. You know what I mean, when you were forced to sit in a math/science/spanish class that only made you feel beat down and like you were the worlds least intelligent person. Real learning is exciting and inspiring and passion inducing- it never leaves you feeling bad about yourself. #endrant

Although I've been out of college for almost a year, I sometimes I find myself wishing I could spend time sitting in a classroom soaking up useful, interesting (read: relevant to my profession) information. It's easy to think that you diploma signals the end of your education, but I've learned that I will never stop needing to challenge and better myself. Working in social media I feel like there's a new skill to learn or tool to utilize every single day. I don't think I'll ever feel like I've gained all the information about this ever-changing digital medium and that really excites me.

This week I had the awesome opportunity to attend the Southern C Summit, a professional conference for creative business people here in Charleston. I spent two days attending various seminars and learning from creative, passionate, successful people from all different areas of the professional world. The conference was held in the historic American Theater (aka where Noah and Allie have their first date in The Notebook) and its next door neighbor, the William Aiken House. It was incredibly cool to go inside these buildings rather than just walk past them like I've done for years. Their interiors were just as beautiful as you would expect- the history nerd in me was in heaven!
Day 1: 

Day 2:

From magazine editors, to business owners, to bloggers the speakers shared their knowledge in a real + relatable way. They didn't sugar coat the hard parts of their work, or spare us the nitty gritty details of what it takes to create success, and I really appreciate that. While I enjoyed everyone, Mandy Rye of Waiting On Martha was definitely my favorite presenter overall. Her session of social media strategy was beyond helpful and inspiring. I kind of wish we were best friends now- homegirl was hilarious, blunt, passionate, and brilliant at what she does. Oh, and her outfit was so on point. #girlcrush

I think I appreciated Mandy's honest session so much because it took away the smoke and mirrors, "oh I just woke up with 100,000 followers" vibe that social media can often create. In the end we're all just imperfect humans trying to live and work and "do life" the best we can. It's so inspiring when we can come together, admitting our innate humanness, and share knowledge to help one another grow. It was truly a beautiful thing to experience and I feel totally re-charged. I'm looking forward to taking what I learned and tackling my work with a renewed excitement and thirst to work harder, better, and smarter. Happy weekend! xo

-Lanie W.