Tag Archives: risk

BIG NEWS – A Dream. A Risk. A Leap. Now we’ve landed.

 

 

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I packed the bags up in the middle of the night while you were sleeping.

I have moved us and I hope you don’t mind. See, I spend so much time talking about dreams and all the ways they spin inside us – twisting and turning with the beats of life. Over the past few months I’ve gotten pretty clear about something.

There was one thing I dreamed of doing. Of being. But I just couldn’t muster up the courage to take the leap. I’m not graceful by nature and knew if I jumped there is a good chance I’d break my ankle. But, this is life and trips to the ER can’t be avoided. I’ve got to live it out and jump with the energy of a Beyonce concert. So, I did.

I have started a new website, and this place will soon be no more.

This is a place I’ve been dreaming of for awhile. I started blogging seriously about three years ago. And in that time I’ve realized so much of what I am passionate about. Most surprisingly you. I’m passionate about you and those crazy ideas that bounce in your head. And that destiny in you? Gosh, it gets my blood pumping.

That got me thinking. How can I turn this passion into something bigger than a blog? Well, by starting a business to make sure that I have the time and opportunity to help pull those things out of you.

I’ve built us a bigger house friends. Let me break it down:

  • Blog -this new website will house a blog just like Lark & Bloom. About once a week I’ll post same as I always have.
  • Baller Status Club – a new couple-times-a-month email for you movers & shakers. Where we get down to the nitty gritty of life and seeing these dreams unfold.
  • Shop – I wish I could sit on your couch every morning when you woke up, hand you a cup of coffee and make sure you started the day with a pep talk. But I can’t. So I have designed some prints you can scatter around your life to help you remember you were made for big things.
  • Storm Sessions – Basically, I wanna be your wingman. One-on-one mentoring sessions with me via skype. This is where I get to hear about the things rolling in your head and get down to business helping you figure out how to let these dreams and goals gain traction.

I’ve taken what we already had going and took it up a notch or twelve hopefully.

And you know what? I’m terrified. As we all are when we step up and say, “What the heck. Let’s do this.”. Maybe I’ve laid out a picnic and no one will come. But I’ve got a feeling.

I’ve got a feeling that life is about to break wide open for us. Big things are ahead and this is the place we can gather to talk about them.

‘Cause we are the dreamers & doers. We don’t play small.

Welcome home friends. Go ahead and browse around OUR NEW HOME! 

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No small plans. No timid dreams.

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The summer between my senior year in high school and my freshman year of college I had this same exact feeling. I remember sitting in my front yard late one night next to a boy. I found myself pulling grass out by the fist full – doing anything I could to delay the inevitable. He and I had said all the things there were to say until there was nothing left but the one thing. The thing that hung so heavy on my eighteen year old frame.

“We have to break up.”.

It was hard. There were tears and doubts. Years have taught me now what love is and that wasn’t love. But it was sweet and kind to me – whatever it was. I let him walk away that night unsure if someone better would ever find me, but I knew that sometimes you have to let go in order have space for the next thing. He was a good thing no doubt. But he wasn’t my good thing.

I snapped this pic a few weeks ago on top of Table Mountain in South Africa. This summer I have put in some miles and these feet of mine have carried me through numerous cities in the US, walked me through London and led me over the hills of Cape Town. It has been a journey. A journey that has given me the opportunity to hear some of your stories and see some of your faces.

Those of you who have mustered up the courage to start new businesses, go back to school or who have gotten together with other readers to share the things you carry on those pieces of paper. I am moved. Always, deeply and humbly moved that something I have said or done has sparked inspiration in you.

As I have heard the stories of featured readers over the summer that I have posted to my blog, I have realized something. I have settled for a “good enough” dream. The way you all risk and are pushing the boundaries has sparked something in me.

Courage is contagious. And I have caught it from you.

I sat at my computer three years ago and wrote the first blog entry on Lark & Bloom. Thinking to myself that the thoughts rolling around in my head might be better left unshared and unspoken.  Away from scrutiny and rejection. I hit that publish button and that’s when this all started. That’s when we started. 

Truth be told, it is easy to take one big leap and then convince ourselves that we have landed. That this is as far as we will go – as far as we want to go. We’ve got something to show for ourselves now. No one can fault us for not trying. We tried. We succeeded. But then we stopped. 

We got far enough, did enough, lived enough.

Your stories have highlighted places in me where I have begun to settle. And I’ve decided something.

No small plans, no timid dreams.

If I am honest with myself – really gut honest – I want to contribute to social change in more profound ways than I am doing now. I want to mentor dreamers and creatives to a greater degree than I am at the moment. I wanna give a pep talk to the world – I want to be an author. There I said it. Out loud and online.

But that requires something terrifying and vulnerable. Something that may or may not work.

I don’t have a business plan, but I have a dream. And for now that’s gotta be good enough.

Your tales of triumph, ache, of stumbling through the mess to find the next steps. You have moved me.

So here I am again on another summer night. Looking at what has been and saying that this is lovely, but I have to let it go. Because there is a bigger dream in me that needs chasing.

Let’s be clear. You and me? We aren’t breaking up. 

I’m just risking on taking this to the next level. I’m going way out of my comfort zone to build a new website that will house this blog as well as other projects.

But we are in this together – me and you. So, I wanted to be transparent from the start. ‘Cause sometimes we need reminding that risks aren’t always polished or easy. That sometimes it means letting go of what is to chase something bigger. Even if it feels too big at times.

And maybe some of you champions need to take some risks with me. Letting go of  “enough” to chase the fuller picture.

So let’s be honest about the things we carry inside us. The version of ourselves we long to become. And let’s do this again. Let’s pioneer something new. No small plans. No timid dreams. Just brave. That’s us.

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Get out of bed, dreamers. It’s time to go.

Somewhere beautiful

 But, really. We never signed up for this.

We never signed up to be taunted by our dreams – to be teased for all that hasn’t happened yet. Peeking out from the covers each morning wondering if this day we will fail just like we have in the long succession of days before. Or maybe, just maybe, today we will be someone great. The kind of someone we crave to be.

Then doubt gives us a fresh dose of  reality and reminds us of all the days we never got where we were going. Best efforts that never quite lifted us out of our ditches. Wheels spinning, flinging dirt all over our hearts and coating us with shame.

We haven’t been enough yet.

Or maybe we go into the world with our shiny new shoes, but the world doesn’t seem to want us. Our freshly unpacked visions and breathtaking ideas – no one has time to see our beauty. So we pack up, go home and crawl into our beds. Under the sheets we go where it is safe and we await the coming of another morning.

This isn’t what we signed up for when we decided we wanted to be dreamers, doers and original gangsters. We didn’t expect to lose or be broken down. We never expected to stop fighting.

And yet , we did. We stopped fighting for the things in us that we want to do and become. We stopped believing that Something Bigger is out there and we are meant to find it.

Each day we dull down our dreams to soften the blow of life. Each day we expect a little less because we can’t stomach the thought of coming up empty again. We sell our dreams for the comfort of our sheets. Where we hide and wait for something to change.

The thing is, I don’t want to be a timid dreamer anymore. I don’t want to stay here in this muted world I’ve created for myself.

I want to break out, have brawls with doubt and lay back with my bloodied nose knowing that I didn’t surrender. I didn’t quit. I fought and I got free.

I’m ditching this joint and I’m inviting you to come.

Remember how good cold rain felt on your face as a kid – when you weren’t worried about it ruining your makeup or your suit? The smell of honeysuckle in the summer and excitement of a new box of crayons? Remember when you expected to make beautiful things? Dreaming of seeing the world – the actual world – instead of just pinning it on your Pinterest board?

Remember when you thought you could do or be anything?

Let’s go back there.

We were meant for something far greater than this, far more grand than we have been told.

Wake up dreamers, doers & original gangsters. It’s time to go. —> click to tweet 

Life will have it’s hard days, and sand will be thrown in your face by people who don’t believe in you enough. Some circumstances won’t change no matter how hard you yell and push on them. But those are the places we simply pass through, not where we have to remain.

Let’s head somewhere beautiful again. To a place where we work hard and make things happen. Where we sit with neighbors on front porches and connect to humanity. Where dreaming makes us smile at the possibility instead of cringe at the defeat.

It may take us awhile to get out of our habits. To crawl out of our beds that we have come to seek comfort from at the start of every morning. We will trip over our own feet more often than we’d like. But, we will get there.

I don’t care how long it takes us. Let’s go somewhere beautiful again.

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Living Your History

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image: Joel Robinson

It was the start to a truly great love story. A boy. A girl. A chase through the rain…

I was 19 and running through the pounding rain. The library could be seen through the science buildings about 100 yards away. My legs were getting tired. They had carried me out of my dorm room, down three flights of stairs and across campus in a mad dash.

But I was driven.

You see, there was this boy. He’d been crazy about me for some time, but I was just too slow to see it. A million reasons and excuses blocked my view of the good thing right in front of me. I had dreams and ideals that I stubbornly clung to.

What if I  could meet a guy in Italy instead? What if a stranger with a killer accent approached me from across a crowded room? What if my dream job will get replaced by falling in love? What if this is the peak of life – and it’s just all downhill from here? What if this story is really a tragedy?

The soundtrack to my own life was drowned out by my  self-doubts. It was safer to fall in love in my head. Things always went my way – I never had a bad hair day or said awkward things on dates. And, of course, he was always charming. Any argument was resolved by the arrival of a large bouquet of my favorite flowers.  Love in my imagination always worked out.

Truth be told, I always played it safe in real life. Friendships, goals, career plans, my social life – you name it. Always lived in the realm of my control.

Yet, another life was happening in my mind. I was bold. A vibrant soul who made the witty comments and traveled the borders. A life full of chances and risks that made my heart pound and my mind race. The kind of daring that only comes when you really, truly understand just how much this life holds within it. That was the life I lived in my mind.

And that was the kind of love story I wrote inside my head. One of risk. Of being so in love it didn’t matter what he said back. My tongue just had to utter the words.

I don’t know what exactly came over me during that thunderstorm. I guess God hit me upside the head enough that the narrative burst and exposed the truth in front of me. I liked the boy back. And I had to tell him. Now. I had to tell him right now.

He normally studied in the library at night so I took off across campus to find him. I didn’t have a cell phone at the time, so I went blindly.

Soaked to the bone and out of breath I ran into the library. I know I must have looked a mess, but I didn’t care. I had something to say to a boy. For about 30 minutes I roamed the aisles of books, peeked in the reading cubicles and scanned the study groups. He wasn’t there.

I headed back out into the storm. A smile flashing across my face at the absurdity of it all. Back through the rain to my car. I drove to his house. Knocked on the door. Dripping wet, I stood before him and blurted out “I like you.”.

Next month we will have been married 11 years. 

So often we miss the story before us because of a preoccupation with our internal narrative. We have clever conversations with others inside our minds, live daring adventures and feel emotions deep in our bones. So deep it is almost terrifying – but we are safe because it isn’t real. It’s just a fantasy we feed to satisfy the hunger within.

Our hunger for the life we imagine.

It’s time to do and become. It’s time to live the stories we write in our heads. –> click to tweet.

Real life hurts sometimes. Makes you want to curl up on the floor and cry out for some relief.  There are years where the failures just seem to keep piling on. The friendships are intertwined with rejection and love has to be fought for day in and day out. Plans crumble before your eyes and our lifelines fray at alarming rates.

But, live we must. Because we are made to do it. Because for every tragic turn there is a persistent Hope that whispers, “It’s gonna get better and I’ll hold you until it does.”.

Go on. Hash out the stories you’ve been writing in your head. Hold the hands of the people who walk beside you. Create the adventures you crave in that nearly forgotten part of your soul. Give grace to yourself and others along the way – you’re gonna need it.

Your history cannot be borrowed. It must be lived. 

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‘Later’ is a dream killer

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I’m about four days into my return from Burundi. Africa left it’s mark on me in so many ways – as it always does. I’m sure I will ramble words here in future posts that explore more of what happened in me during my time there. For now, most of those thoughts are still unraveling in my mind.

There was this phrase though that tumbled across my mind. It popped up when I was sitting with orphans in shelters, listening to drummers up high in the mountains and watching the hippos climb out of Lake Tanganyika. It was there when I laid on my bed under the mosquito net that draped like a canopy over me.

‘Later’ is a dream killer.

All throughout Africa I thought about this – a million reasons that trip shouldn’t have been able to happen. Except we decided that this was the time to move forward with our adoption. For all the reasons ‘now’ seems impossible, it isn’t.

And so we said, not later. Now.

We took a risk. And people showed up. Donations came in to help cover the cost and  a village of people surrounded my husband and helped him take care of the kids while I was away. I found myself thinking how amazing the world really is when we just step outside our front doors and start walking towards the things we feel called to.

That dream we want to chase, the idea we feel destined to birth or the relationships we aspire to build are all threatened by this simple thought. I’ll do it later.

It is true that we don’t know what tomorrow will hold and that the future has zero guarantees. But, I don’t think that is what makes ‘later’ so dangerous.

Putting things off until later reveals not only a false view of the future, but a troublesome insight into the way we see our present.

What is wrong with right now?

I am not brave enough.

I don’t deserve it. 

There isn’t enough money or time now. The future will be different.

I can’t handle it yet. There is too much I still need to learn.

I am too afraid. Afraid that I will fail, that I will loose or even worse – that I was not made to do it after all.

There are a million reasons we say ‘not now’. And those are the very reasons that ‘later’ will never happen.

The future version of ourselves is always better. We have more money, we are confident and shake off the haters with a passing glance. Our future selves don’t fear failure or making bad decisions. Our future selves are deserving of good things – weaknesses are a thing of the past. We are no longer afraid of ourselves in ___ years.

The future is where we imagine our dreams can happen.

Our assumption is that things will change by the mere passage of time. But, that isn’t how it works.

The future is painted by what we do today.

We gotta look at all the real reasons we say ‘later’. All of our walls we hide behind or the excuses we make that let us get away with being people we aren’t proud to be. Time doesn’t change the way we see ourselves. We gotta deal with our reasons head-on. If not, today’s excuses will become tomorrow’s excuses.

Yea, we may not be able to do all of our dreams right now. We have families, jobs and financial responsibilities that we need to take care of. However, most of the time it isn’t really responsibility that stops us. It is a belief that right now, we can’t. We aren’t enough and don’t have what it takes.

It is my personal belief that we are all created by God with an eternal destiny within us. We were made for more than haphazard living with idealistic views that one day it will all be different. Each of us holds something valuable. Right now. Today. Even if it is baby steps, we gotta start walking towards something bigger.

Let’s create the things, have the conversations, board the planes and start the businessesLet’s be honest about the lies that tell us that it can’t begin now. ‘Cause we got dreams people. And ‘later’ is a dream killer.

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Go ahead, dreamer. Do the crazy thing.

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You know. That ‘thing’.

It never seems to go away. The idea, the dream, the passion, the vision that stays ever before you. The ‘what if’ scenario that resurfaces in your imagination – over and over and over. No matter how you try and rationalize it out of your psyche, it keeps coming back. As if you were made to think it. Born to do it.

Sometimes they are big and busting at the seams with meaning. Others are simple whims that buzz around your head making you smile as you think of them. If only, you think to yourself. If only I had the time, the money, the capacity, the opportunity…If only I could do it.

My gypsy soul has done some crazy things.

I fell in love when I said I wouldn’t. So in love, I married at age 21. The thing I was too young to do.

For years I dreamed of Seattle. Going and living in that vibrant city which sits on the edge of the next-big-thing all the time. When I was 23 I went there to plant a church. And I did. I did the thing that looked impossible.

I have a passion for travel. So, I became a travel agent. The dream job for me in so many ways. I made no money at it and didn’t renew my license. I did the crazy thing that failed…and it wasn’t that bad.

Seattle became a home beyond what I could have imagined. So much of what defined me was there and one day we felt the nudge of God to let it all go. Pack up and move on to the next thing. So, despite many tears…I moved. I did the thing that felt like it would kill me, but it didn’t.

Graduate school has been a passion of mine for years. I decided to study for the GRE…hours I studied and then never took it. I did the thing that never went anywhere but taught me so much anyway.

I have two kids and am adopting two more. I am doing the thing that seems beyond my capacity.

I am trying to write a book. I am doing the thing that intimidates me.

I am pursuing my passion to see an end to human trafficking and work with an organization to see the 27 million slaves in the world set free. I am doing the thing that seems too big for me. The dream that has always felt intangible and distant. The dream that scares me the most.

So many things.

Crazy, beautiful, motivating. Ideas and dreams I couldn’t shake.

Thoughts that didn’t seem to matter to anyone else – they were the thoughts that wouldn’t leave me alone. I do things that seem impressive to others and things that people find trivial. I do things that no one else understand but God and myself. Some I do well and others I fumble. But I do them.

Go ahead. You were made to do the crazy things.

The idea you tinker with in your spare time. Things so crazy no one has done yet. Or things so seemingly ordinary people don’t understand your passion for it. Lives so brave they make the complacent uncomfortable. Focus so wild it intimidates the giants who say it can’t be done. You were made for this.

So go ahead. Do them. Do the crazy things.

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Why Yelling From A Boat Is The Right Thing To Do

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These past few weeks there have been numerous people yelling at me from boats. Just when I don’t think I can come up for another breath, there they are. Their muffled encouragements drifting into my ears through the crashing waves. At certain moments I lose my bearings and ability to judge if I can even make it to my destination at all. But the hodge-podge crowd of boat sailing cheerleaders yelled at me telling me that I was so close – almost there. Keep going Liz.

Okay, I think to myself. Just breathe. Keep going.

You may not know this about me, but I am NOT a marathon swimmer. However, some people actually are. And when they set out to conquer things like the English Channel or swimming from Florida to Haiti without a shark cage, they don’t go it alone. They are accompanied by a support boat full of people. People to cheer them on, give them what they need throughout the journey and rescue them if need be.

I have been my own kind of marathon swimmer as of late. My oceans are composed of legal documents. Instead of waves I have deadlines and my sharks are simply too many unknown elements to name. Four years ago, we began the process of international adoption. It has been a gritty and grueling marathon of its own.

I leave in two weeks to travel to Africa and begin meeting with orphanages. After four years of what seems like aimless swimming in an endless sea, it is as if I can see a shore for the first time. But these past few weeks have had some significant challenges. Thank God for the boat full of people yelling at me.

Random texts asking how to pray. Phone calls from people I rarely talk to calling just encourage me and see how I am doing. A $500 donation to our adoption account from a complete stranger. People in a boat. Cheering beside me.

My life has been filled with moments that seemed to hard to endure. Moments that my weary eyes were blurry and couldn’t really see the target anymore. Days when it seemed like the darkness was greater than the light and that somehow in the scuffle of it all I didn’t really matter much. But in those moments that ached with tiredness I heard the yells and remembered that I wasn’t alone.

We all need boats of people yelling at us.

Screaming our rally cry when we have forgotten the very words our own heart wrote.

Gladiators who step in the ring with us saying, ” Have a rest friend. I’ve got this round.“.

Dreamers who never let us forget our vision and  pray for endless hours to a God who gives the strength we need.

But we have to let them in. Tell them what battles we are fighting and give them permission to journey alongside us. Not following at a distance, but close. Where they can see our labored breathing and hear our subtle cry for help. Yes, they will see us ugly cry and wrestle with our inadequacies. But we trust them – so its okay. These are the ones who will cover for us when we fail and who only Instagram our highlights.

Don’t swim your oceans alone. Bring people in.

And get in another’s boat.

Be the the one yelling that the shore is close. Remind others that this saltwater won’t surround them forever, but soon they will be able to put their feet down and walk onto the beach having conquered that which seemed impossible. And when they get there, throw them a party.

Yell, cheer and pray until you have lost your own voice on another’s behalf.

Build a boat and fill it with people who have your back. Hop in a canoe and paddle alongside a friend who needs you.

Our destiny is not to drown alone in the dark waters, but to defy the odds with others.

Love crosses oceans.

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What about small middles?

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photo source unknown

I have a love-hate relationship with this phrase : Don’t despise the days of small beginnings.

Here is the part I love: Small beginnings can have big endings. You know, the whole thing about a small acorn holding within it a big oak tree.

Here is the part I hate: What happens when the “beginning” was ten years ago?

What if we are in the middle and it is still small? No resources, no recognition and no growth at the beginning is expected. Things take time…but eventually time passes and we can’t really say we are in the beginning anymore.

Nope, we are smack in the middle now. Some of us still find ourselves with no resources, no recognition and no growth. I’m gonna be honest here.

I despise the days of small middles.

It’s just not fair.

Maybe you dream of being a photographer and started taking pictures a few years ago as a side gig until you had enough business to do it full time. Now, its five years later, you are still taking pictures and working that second job because the photo business isn’t growing the way you hoped.

Perhaps your marriage and family life started out rocky. You poured your time and energy into improving it. Years later, here you are. Still struggling with the same hurdles.

That vintage resale business you launched on Instagram last year has made you a total of $50 over the course of 12 months. Why is there so little to show for your passion and hard work?

As if our small middle wasn’t bad enough, there always seems to be someone who started after we did that has already passed us up. The blogger who got a book deal after a year, the pastor who grew his church to thousands in no time flat, and the entreprenur who seems to know exactly which houses to flip.

Then comes the dread.

Am I not as gifted as I thought? Did I miss my calling? Do people see me as a failure? Why is everyone else gaining ground and I can’t get traction to save my life?

Fear and insecurity come in to rob any hope we have left.

Yeah, maybe some people are pursuing the wrong thing. I could work 24 hours a day to become a great singer, but that ship will never sail. Chasing the wrong dream may be some people’s problem, but I think it is more the exception than the rule.

So, why shouldn’t we be discouraged by our small middles? 

No matter how much planning we have done or how visionary we are, we don’t see the entire picture. Our lives are always part of something bigger than we know.

I’ll be honest with you – I am smack in the middle of small middles in so many areas. It is painful, frustrating and down-right embarrassing sometimes. The other day I was feeling particularly annoyed at my little middle when I remembered one of my favorite Bible verses:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

The plans for my life are beyond what I am aware of. Maybe what I am creating goes deeper than I knew it could and roots take time to grow in order to support great things eventually. Or perhaps the things that are being produced aren’t as obvious as my measuring tools would like.

To all of you reading who are in the middle of a small and unimpressive middle – I see you and I get it.

I see the dreams that are waiting to come out and the vision just itching to be lived. The desperate hope that you will be able to pull it off and become something grander that you are now. The deep belief that somehow you are more than meets the eye at the moment.

You are.

You are far more than can be seen right now. Don’t worry if there isn’t much to show yet. Things are happening – going deeper and broader than you are aware. The intangibles might be weaving themselves together behind the scenes. In 20 years you may look back and realize that this – this seemingly small middle – was actually where the most growth happened.

This is where you chose to dig in your heels and believe that you were made for something bigger.

Because you are. 

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Celebrating the wrong direction and a 3rd Birthday

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Grab your party hats, your streamers and your beverage of choice! Today is a day of celebration at Lark & Bloom. It is actually a trifecta of celebration to be clear.

It is the end of our Uncomfortable January series, this blog’s third birthday and a day to embrace and enjoy the truth that at times our risks don’t turn out the way we want them too – which is a good thing more times than not.

Three years ago today, I was sitting in a quiet house with my husband out-of-town and my kids sleeping in their rooms down the hallway. Boxes were accumulating with our move from Seattle to California just weeks away. My head was spinning with emotions and tear-shedding was no longer enough relief. I had to get these thoughts out.

I sat down and wrote the very first blog post at Lark & Bloom. I had failed at one blog before – mostly because I only wrote a single entry then never posted again. Another blog? Do I really have anything to say this time?  I decided that I probably didn’t have anything worth saying, but I went ahead and set one up anyway. My friends were scattered around the world, and I was experiencing a massive life transition. Lark and Bloom was created that night as a means of processing out my thoughts so my friends could read them and stay connected to me between sparse phone calls.

Except that isn’t what happened. Very few of my friends actually read my blog, which is totally fine, because you came. You showed up to hear my words and talk with me about the world and all that it could be. We have been able to dream together, grow together and connect through this space.

This blog failed at its original mission, but it has morphed into something far more wonderful. Readers from around the world bring their beautiful stories and dreams that are truly inspiring. This community is something I never knew I needed – something I never imagined.

Had I known the bigness of what I was getting myself into three years ago, I most certainly wouldn’t have ever typed out that initial post. It would have terrified me.

This month I have heard stories of what you guys are doing in response to An Uncomfortable January. You are risky and bold. Living life – big or small – with intention.

And this is what we are celebrating today. Taking risks that lead us to unknown destinations.

When I kicked off this series a few weeks ago, I talked about being risky in 2014.

You have dreams in your heart worth chasing,  goals that are begging to be accomplished, and ideas to create. There is a person worth developing in you and a narrative all your own that deserves applause. That is worth risking on in 2014.

But there are days we will head in the wrong direction – and we celebrate those too. Respecting the fact that we were brave enough to venture off the path in the first place, embracing the lessons to be learned in the process and acknowledging the little victories along the way.

Maybe we didn’t end up where we wanted to or with the people we intended to be with. The full picture is rarely in focus when we start out. Step by step, the journey becomes a little clearer. In the end, we look back and see the meaning in it all. The guidance of a God who knew the whole story before we even began.

Sometimes where we end up is far better than where we were headed. —> click to tweet

There is destiny within us that we aren’t even aware of yet – destinations never dreamed of. Our lives are bigger than we know. That is why we simply start by taking the little risks  – knowing that these baby steps will eventually cover miles.

Years from now, we will gather with our families in our living rooms and share the stories of our adventures. The distant lands we walked upon, the space we created, the humanity we embraced, the feeble love we offered, the careers we built and the relationships we established. Stories that cause little tots eyes to light up and remind all those within earshot that their lives are meant for something bigger.

We may not end up the richest or most famous, but we will be full because we did what we were put on earth to do. Dreamt the dreams, walked the roads and cried the tears.  Cakes will be baked to acknowledge the milestones along the way and friendships will be forged that enable us to cross the distance ahead.

Here’s to the ones who take a chance and the ones who celebrate going the wrong direction. We aren’t afraid to succeed and we aren’t afraid to fail. Cause we’re risky like that in 2014. 

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Filed under Faith, Fire, Lifestyle, My Life Thus Far, Uncategorized, Uncomfortable January 2014, Whimsy

From Army Ranger to Fashion Photographer

It is the final stretch of An Uncomfortable January, a series dedicated to taking risks. Today I am interviewing one of the riskiest people I know. Ian was an Army Ranger and risked his life for our nation (insert a standing ovation for all who have served our country) and is now a fashion photographer.  Today he is sharing his thoughts with us. Spoiler Alert: His answer to #7 is pure gold.

Pic 4

Self Portrait Photo Courtesy: Kenneth Takada 2012

1. I’ve known you for about 5 years or so, but why don’t you go ahead and tell everyone a bit about yourself.

Well, my name is Ian. I am from Detroit, Michigan. I grew up there my entire life in a home with my twin brother and wonderful mother. When I was 18 I joined the US Army to pursue a career in the military. I am now a combat veteran finishing my education in the arts. I am also a fashion photographer. I’ve been married for five years now to my beautiful wife, and I currently reside in Santa Barbara, California.

2. My husband has a flag that you carried on a mission when you were an Army Ranger. What made you decide to go through such grueling training and put your life on the line for our country?

To be honest, I had no intentions of becoming a Ranger when I enlisted. It was something that I chose to do because I felt that I was subject to greater leadership. Before I became a Ranger I was with a conventional Army unit, where I had been mistreated and manipulated. I decided that it was time for something greater. Something better. I had learned on my base in Joint Base Lewis-McCord, Washington (formally Fort Lewis) that 2nd Ranger Battalion resided there.

I had no idea who Rangers were or what they did, I just knew that those men were held to a greater standard than I was. I called the Ranger Regimental liaison (recruiter) and told him that I wanted this so bad and refused to be a part of my current unit. Two weeks later, I had orders for Ranger Indoctrination Program (RIP) and Airborne School in Fort Benning, Georgia.

My time spent in Georgia was amazing and at the same time soul shattering. I had just gotten married to my wife Muka, and it would be 4 months before I saw her again. She was motivated to push me through because she knew that I could be a better soldier. Once I had an understanding of what it was to be a Ranger while going through RIP, I could not turn back, regardless of how brash my training was – physically and mentally. I knew this was something I had to do.

gun

Me shooting in Santa Paula, CA 2013

3. What did it look like for you when you were deployed? Was it a 24 hour threat?

Unfortunantly, because of my role as a Ranger I was held under SOCOM regulations, therefore I cannot go into specific detail about being deployed as a Ranger.

However, what I can say is, we are deployed for a specific amount of time in a foreign country. Given tasks to complete in a timely manner. Our capabilities backed by our training is what allows us to commit to such dangerous and vigorous tasks. Other units in the Army coin us as men who are excited to run towards danger. There is a real reason for that. A Ranger is a mentally tough and highly skilled soldier, therefore whatever task is given to him, he can shoulder it and prevail no matter how difficult the task is. This is what we believe, its in our Creed. There is a phrase given to us: Sua Sponte. It means “Of their own accord.” This phrase is the mentality of your modern-day Ranger, and its used on the battlefield and in everyday life. We are men of our own accord, not because we are told to, but because we choose to be.

4. Whenever someone is working to achieve a goal or dream there are risks involved. Some good and some bad. How did you learn to differentiate between the risks that were worth taking and the ones that weren’t?

The way I see it is, you never really know the risk at hand until you take it. When you take a risk it is taken because of a certain gain. Whether that gain is personal or for others, you take it because you know the potential outcome and that’s what you strive for. The risks I have seen men (Rangers) take in order to accomplish something, it was out of selfishness and gain for their men. So that they shall prosper, not just the risk taker himself. Risks are worth taking if there is a good deed that comes out of it. I believe that, and I know a great number of men who believe the same.

Muka & I at the Richard Avedon Exhibit 2013

Muka & I at the Richard Avedon Exhibit 2013

5. Most of us are not taking enemy fire in the pursuit of our goals, but we do have lots of other things that can serve as deterrents or distractions. How did you stay focused on your goal when you were getting push back?

I wasn’t always taking enemy fire either when taking a risk haha! However, our role as humans, as people who inherit the Earth, is to prevail and fight our lives as we see fit. I have had many distractions in my life, in and out of the Ranger battalion. Even in my own marriage I have been distracted with things that only I have wanted to do, not thinking about my wife. And the older I got, I was able to identify them more.

Most of the time you fail because of those distractions but it is up to you how bad you want those accomplishments. Being selfless is one of them. Your accomplishment doesn’t just affect you. It also affects others around you whether they are near or far. Your deeds are a reflection of you. If you fail, it doesn’t make you a failure, but when you look back at your failure; what was it that you could have changed? What were the lessons learned from that mistake? This is how I continued to stay focused as a man, a husband, and a Ranger. Now I am a photographer and guess what? Those same distractions reappear, but I have been able to identify them, and work through those obstructions.

Self Portrait 2012

Self Portrait 2012

6. One thing I love about you and Muka is that you are dreamers. After you were finished with the army, you took another risk and started a photography business. Becoming a Ranger, owning your own business, moving cities…you guys have tackled some serious dreams so far in life. What would you say to people who have a lot of things they want to accomplish in life but doubt if they can do them all?

Do them! When we decided to up and leave Washington, we said, “Hey, let’s just leave Washington.” We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We knew the risk, but we knew the outcome. We knew it would mean happiness and joy. We knew it would mean marital development. I still remember what Jady said when he married us, “Your loyalty towards one another will allow you to defeat all odds & you will become better people every day.”

This is something we still stand by to this day. We know that we will have to be loyal to one another, that’s how we have accomplished so much. You have to learn to be loyal. Not only to one another but to yourself as well. If you cheat yourself, what makes your think you aren’t easily capable of cheating and deceiving others? Loyalty to yourself is a huge factor in gaining success because the biggest thing that backs loyalty is Truth!

Me during a photoshoot in East Los Angeles 2013

Me during a photoshoot in East Los Angeles 2013

7. Any final thoughts or words of wisdom on being risky and chasing your dreams?

You know I’ve been getting the word “wisdom” thrown at me a lot lately! As humans, we take an everyday risk. We take risks as soon as we get up in the morning. As soon as we walk out of our front doors to start our daily lives. My mother was a very wise woman, and before she died she specifically told me, “When I leave this place (Earth), you better not sit here and mope around like it’s the end of the world. Go forth and live your life, and live it every day, because tomorrow is never promised to any of us.”

Those words are something that everyone needs to hear. Fear is what kindles in most of us, which is only natural because it is human nature to be afraid. However, the Enemy is what backs our fear. We must never fall for tricks of the Enemy. You have to foster a strength that you never thought you had. You have to engage your issues with power and trust in yourself.

You have to know that failure does exist, but it does not last forever. —> click to tweet

I have failed many times, only to realize that success was just a few steps ahead of me. I always knew that if I could muster the strength to overcome my obstructions, that would conquer my everyday problems. Don’t hold back, don’t hold grudges. Forgive people. Love people.

There are many who have died holding on to evil and deceit, unfortunately they have left what they have held onto for others to burden. Leave a legacy. Make something for the person who comes after you, so that your legacy may have no age or expiration.

Be happy. You’re alive!!! You are loved, whether you want to believe it or not. Last but certainly not least, believe in yourself and be yourself. Believe that you are worthy of greatness so that you may leave a trail of greatness!

– God Bless and Rangers Lead the Way!

Ian E Robertson

Visit Ian’s website to connect with him and learn more about his work–> ianrobertsonphoto.com

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Filed under Faith, Guest Posts, Uncomfortable January 2014