What makes you lovely?

"It's funny...as soon as I heard about The Lovely Initiative I immediately had two thoughts. The first was, "WHAT A FREAKING BEAUTIFUL IDEA" and the second was, "Shoot...I really hope Ashley doesn't ask me to do it because I have no idea what my answer would be". Ha! It's so difficult to say kind things about yourself (and to yourself!), but I guess that's the whole point, isn't it?

I think what makes me lovely is my joyful spirit. I've always loved and identified with this quote by Eugene Peterson: "For joy is life in excess, the overflow of what cannot be contained within any one person". My joy is rooted in my faith and deepened by my ability and decision to choose it every day. 

We don't have control over our circumstances, but I believe that we do have control over how we respond to them. Our attitude, actions, words...they all matter. And to bring it back to that quote...how beautiful is the notion that when we fill ourselves with joy and goodness and beauty, it spills out of us and overflows onto the people we love? That's so motivating for me.

Choosing joy in the tough moments is not always easy, and I certainly have times where I struggle with it, but overall I've been pretty amazed by how much power I have to create positive outcomes in the midst of difficult situations.

My husband, Beau, is currently in his pediatrics residency here in Portland. As those familiar with the medical field may know, residency is supposed to be the darkest, most difficult time for physicians and their loved ones. We're talking 60-100+ hour work weeks, usually 6 days a week, night shifts, and tons of stress and pressure. For me, this means a lot of time alone, all the way across the country from my family, trying to support Beau by running errands, doing most of the cooking and creating a little bit of normalcy among all the crazy. 

While Beau is at work, I could very easily (and justifiably!), spend time moping around the house and wishing things were different. Or, I could choose to spend that time developing new friendships, growing my business, finding new hobbies and enjoying this incredible new city that we're in. I've committed myself to the latter, and I think I can honestly say that the past year and a half of residency has been one of the most enriching and joyful of my life. We've taken full advantage of every minute that Beau has off to explore some beautiful new parts of the country. I started practicing yoga and much to my surprise, I've gotten pretty good at it. I've created an art and illustration business that started as a hobby and has recently turned into my full-time gig. We've developed deep friendships with some amazing people that I know will be in our lives forever. So much goodness from a time that could have otherwise been pretty trying.

So, yeah. I think that my commitment to seeking joy and beauty in my life makes me lovely. And powerful. And hopefully it creates a "life in excess" which is impacting people for the better."