Tucked away on Pacific Coast Highway in little Laguna Beach is the gem of all Laguna's beach hikes. Thousand Steps Beach is a beautiful, picture perfect, and bring your Nikes because it's a workout. It sits at a little you-blink-you-miss-it stop on the side of the highway. It's perfect Adventure Day List mini-hike.
Photography: Mason Cleveland
Disclaimer: *This is a story about hair. As a normal, adult human who is aware of my own life and the world, I understand that there are much, much larger problems in the world than having issues with hair. Some people don't even have hair, so it's a very nice thing, but bear with this unimportant story about superficiality and extremely small problems for a deeper message.*
I have forever and always wanted pin-straight, blonde hair, ever since I was just a tiny lil' lamb. But I have very much the opposite. I'm brunette with a full and crazy head of curly hair. The story of my hair is a sad little story. I chopped off my long curly waves one day when I was in middle school and added a bunch of bangs and layers and crazy things. Unfortunately, that was the year of side bangs and was also right on time for when I was scheduled in life to get super awkward and self conscious. Then, I discovered the straightener, and for the past ten years, I've straightened and curled and done whatever I could to make it the least natural possible ever since then. There's a strange, ironic, and dysfunctional relationship you develop with your hair when you hate it with all of your little heart but you still pour your time and money into it and care way too much about it.
You might not hate your hair, but as most people, there's probably something about you are the fondest of.
For me, it's the crazy stuff on my head.
I was super harsh on myself in high school, and I really hated how I looked. I had super cute friends who were really pretty and trendy, and I was really shy, insanely self-conscious, and always comparing myself to them. Not a good combo for the high school version of me.
I was in a really bad and abusive relationship, and when that ended, I got into a super self-destructive mind-set and felt like it was totally all my fault, and maybe if I was more beautiful, he wouldn't have done what he had done to me. So from then until pretty much now, I've been ridiculously obsessed with trying to look beautiful. I've been through all the phases, let me tell ya'. I got eyelash extensions, went blonde, got a weave, wore those eyelash strips that are super hard to put on, fake tanned, you name it, I probably have tried it and discovered that it's really hard or extremely expensive. And the truth is, I thought that if I could just get one more of those things, I would be beautiful. If I were tanner or had longer lashes or longer hair I would suddenly be beautiful and love myself. Needless to say, it's a recipe for disaster and it failed miserably.
A couple of weeks ago, I was at a ministry dinner with a pastor from Uganda. After his talk, he prayed a prophetic prayer over the group. I'll be real, at first I was totally freaked out. Ugandans pray a little bit differently, and everyone was talking and praising and praying all at the same time, and I was opening one eye, looking around to figure out what kind of crazy Pentecostal thing was happening up in there. But it wasn't crazy or Pentecostal, it was really beautiful and Jesus kicked my little doubting, overly-skeptical butt and I got a lot of healing from spiritual oppression in my life. We all prayed together and then the pastor prayed, he encouraged us to pray, he prayed for us, and God removed a lot of nasty burdens I had. Praying and actually listening to God works, go figure.
One of the things I got a major break in was this crazy burden I've been carrying around about my appearance, years and years and years worth of baggage. It sounds crazy and ridiculous, but I felt this crazy, liberating freedom from wearing my hair naturally. I just didn't do it for a week, for the first time in a decade. It was amazing, and super weird, but really great! It's still a huge thing I have to work on every single day with Jesus and I have to be so, super aware so it doesn't become a stronghold for me again, but it feels like a really nice breath of fresh air.
Everyone has something they hate about themselves. Or, maybe you've worked through those issues and your stronghold is rooted in a different place. It feels like you're drowning. It's overwhelming and heavy. It's burdensome and ugly, and it makes you think you are the one who's going to fix your problems. The truth is, the only one who is going to fix all of your deeply rooted issues and lift your burden is Jesus. It seems simple, but it's something that's easily forgotten. You can't fix your problems with material items. Money, make-up, work, spray-tans, it can't fix you. Those aren't bad things. They become bad things when they're made into idols and problem solvers in our lives.
Jesus is the ultimate burden-lifter and freedom-giver you will ever find. Everything else is a quick-fix band-aid. The problem for me was, I knew Jesus's burden was light and mine was heavy, I knew He was the only thing that would really help me, and I kept telling him to take my junk, but I wouldn't let go. It took me three years to figure out that if I wanted him to take the things that hurt me so badly and deeply I had to actually let go, and let him take it when I asked him to. It's a freedom you'll never want to lose.
At the beginning of the year, I started a job as a Bridal Stylist for a bridal salon. As a bridal stylist, the dress code is business professional, all black. Long ago, [two months ago...], back when I was just a free-spirit little lamb chop who had no such dress code, I was all about dressing up, allllll the time. Needed to go out for milk? You best have on your cutest off-the-shoulder top. Craving a doughnut? Heels and nails painted. Stopping by Rite Aid? Wedges and a leather jacket.
But as all ridiculous, weird things do, my ultra-wardrobe motivation has come to an end.
Now that I have some more wardrobe rules to abide by, whenever I'm home, I'm pretty much always in leggings and wearing some sort of slipper that I'm pretending is a shoe.
I still love fashion and dressing up, but for the days I have off when it's just me and a my vegan nachos watching the bachelor at home, I like to meet somewhere in the middle. This is my favorite comfy, but I can still go to the grocery store, day-off outfit.
My striped Blu Pepper sweater, my cozy and easy Forever 21 Jeans, and my comfy Sanuks.
This month has been Black History Month, and I've been spending the whole month trying to figure out what to write about it. I know exactly what I want to say, but the delivery hasn't come easily.
I love Black History Month. I think it's so inspiring and educational. I like that it's not shallow. It's a time of mourning and lamenting, celebrating accomplishments, and remembering so we can learn. Unfortunately, I've heard the age old sentence that makes me cringe and automatically makes my left eyebrow raise sassily and gives me really bad RBF:
"Why do Black people get a history month? Why isn't there a white history month?".
As a little white kid, I know I don't have a big voice in the conversation of Black Lives Matter and discussions involving people of color. I don't know what it's like to be a person of color. I'm not black; I never have and never will know what it's like to be black. I'm a white girl. I've never been afraid to get pulled over because of the color of my skin. No one has ever made a racial slur towards me. No one has ever really made fun of my accent. No one has ever put me in a situation where I'm afraid for my safety or well-being because of the way I look. While I can't speak into what that's like, I do have a voice. I'm very privileged. Having privilege not only gives you a voice in these conversations, it gives you a responsibility to speak up to others whom only you can reach because of your privilege. I can't and shouldn't tell a black person how to feel or act or speak in racial conversations, it's not my role, it's not my place, and I will never truly understand their perspectives as they do. But as a privileged person with a voice, I can speak up for them, and that's where I'm at right now, writing this blog post.
Okay, sidebar background explanation, check.
"Why isn't there a white history month?"
It really is a very silly question. White history month is every month. We get work off and close the post office for holidays commemorating the accomplishments and celebrations of important, white figures in our history all year round. Our country has had 42 white presidents.
It has only been 53 years since segregation has been illegal.
I'll be honest, I struggled with a lot of topics surrounding racial reconciliation for a long time. I didn't understand what "the big deal" was. I didn't understand Black History month. I felt as a white person, my being privileged wasn't my fault. I felt like it wasn't my fault that African Americans had been treated so badly for so long in American History. I didn't get why commemorating African American people was so important. But after many many conversations and a lot of listening and praying, God shook my heart up about this. I was totally right, it's not my fault that I'm privileged. I didn't chose to be white, but I am. It's not my fault that Black People have been so, so mistreated in American history. It's not my fault that other people are racist. But the ball that's in my court is that although I can't control the past or my skin color or other people's hearts or racism, I am responsible for listening. As a Christian, I'm called by God to speak up for the hurting and marginalized. I'm commanded to love and have compassion. I'm called to be who God has called me to be weather or not I understand or agree. That means it's my duty as a follower of Christ to ask African Americans their thoughts and feelings and their reasons why, instead of telling them how to feel or think.
The reason there isn't a white history month is because 53 years ago, there wasn't a law put in place to stop the segregation and mistreatment and inequality of white people. 60 years ago, white people weren't legally obligated to use a different drinking fountain or sidewalk or seat on a bus than white people. 152 years ago, white people weren't the ones set free from two and a half centuries of slavery.
Black History Month isn't a time to have tension and division. It's a time to lament. It's a time to listen. It's a time to celebrate amazing people in American History who overcame gigantic obstacles to do incredible things. These are the people who helped develop the underground railroad, who stood up for justice, who took a stand against segregation. People who marched and protested and risked their lives so that one day, their children or grandchildren, or great, great grandchildren would be able to live in a world where they were treated as equals, where the color of their skin would not separate them from being treated as valuable human beings. They are people who were the firsts. People who took big risks and worked hard at their goals. That's a beautiful thing that needs to be celebrated.
The month is almost over, but that doesn't mean you should stop pursuing this. Take time to pray about this. Ask God to help you understand or give you the courage to ask. Listen and have open arms of love and compassion. Stand up for the marginalized and be their voice. Be Jesus to a world that is stingy on love and justice.
Some people love it, some people hate it, whatever your Valentine's thing is, you still have to keep your outfit cute and trendy for your big date or Galentine's party.
Have some inspo, on the house, kid.
I like to be cute but also keep it comfy, so I'm wearing my favorite red, jersey knit dress from forever 21 with some ankle strap, pointed toe heels. It's on the casual side, but super cute and flirty. And, I always wear my ardell individual lashes with a natural smokey eye and some deep, dark lipstick.
Have a classy, sassy Valentine's Day Babes.
Scroll down to get the full look and product info.
Sometimes you have an off day. Sometimes you have an off week. Sometimes you just don't feel like yourself. Busy schedules, long days at work, cloudy skies; there's many a thing that can get you feeling like you're in a funk. I just had a whole weekend like that. I didn't want to go outside, I wasn't very hungry, I didn't really want to do anything, and I would have been content doing nothing but staring at the wall for a whole day. That's for sure not me. I let the funk get a hold of me for a few days, and then I had to hit it hard to get back in the swing of things. Here's my Feel-More-You list for when you're off and not your normal self:
When I'm feeling out of it, I usually need to get a grip with Jesus and remember what He thinks of me. I always pray for peace and rebuke whatever is around me that's not of the Lord. Some of my favorite passages to read are Hebrews 13:6, Hebrews 4:16, 1 John 4:17, and 1 John 5:14. Getcho' self some Jesus.
2. TREAT YO'SELF FOOD
Eating my favorite food or whatever I'm craving always helps me feel better. This doesn't necessarily mean I eat the double double and bacon covered-extra cheese pizza that I'm dreaming about and go crazy, I try to keep it on the healthy side because sometimes eating half of a greasy pizza and a milkshake doesn't always make me feel better. But, having a salad or a healthy snack with a bowl of Ben and Jerry's never hurt no one. When I get moody and distant with myself, My weird crave food is from Native Foods Vegan Restaurant. To each their own, *insert your weird food cravings here*.
3. CLASSIC YOU CLOTHES
Wear the most you outfit. Pick out your favorite clothes, your favorite shoes, and do your hair the way you love it. My favorite outfit is some black pants, vans high tops, a floral tank, and a comfy little jean jacket. I curl my crazy locks and grab the shimmer eye shadow, and instantly I'm feeling a little more Carlie.
4. FAVORITE STORE EXPEDITION
Making yourself get up and get out can always help you feel better. Sometimes you have to force yourself. Head to your favorite feel-good store, and even if you don't buy anything, walk around. Try on clothes you like, look at the things you're interested in, window shop, whatever does the feel-goods for you. When I'm down, I ALWAYS go to Target. Walking around Target is therapy for me. The employees probably think I'm psychotic, but it always does the trick.
5. THINGS YOU LOVE LIST
It sounds odd, but make a list of things you love. You can make a pinterest board or save pictures of your things, or just simply write a physical list of them. Sometimes I make a mood board, sometimes I make a list of the places I want to travel, sometimes I just Pinterest and pick out cute outfits. Find things that inspire you. My things are glitter shoes and wallets, red lipsticks, off-the-shoulder tops, pale pink nail polishes, heels, and makeup. You do you boo.
If you find yourself feeling down, don't fret. Give yourself a mini-vacation, and focus on Jesus, the things you love, and treat yourself to your favorites. It's a foolproof formula to feel extra you ❤
This year, I've been on a clean eating kick. Not a diet or a weight-loss plan, just an "I basically only consume pasta and bread and it makes me tired want to sleep all day so that should probably not be a thing" plan. I try to steer clear of refined sugars, gluten, fried foods, and excessive dairy. It's rough when you're a pasta-all-day girl, but overall, clean eating has been easier than I thought. The only rough patches I hit are when I need dessert. I tried to be a staunch no sugar lady, and I could pretend that I'm super healthy, don't eat dessert, and do crunches every day. But the truth is, sometimes you need ice cream or a mozzarella stick to keep you sane.
I've learned that if I don't stock up on the clean-eating goods, then when the cravings and long days come around, I cave. So, these are my favorite protein-packed and good-for-you treats:
Pantone has come out with the colors for 2017, and we have got a good hand of fresh colors to work with this year! Dig through your closet and hit the sales rack, because you do not want to miss out on this trendy new palette. Get some inspiration from our style forecast below and get these shades in your closet!
I am all about fresh and new and this recipe is all that and a bowl of pasta. I have a weird and giant place in my heart for vegan food and I love it. Love, love love it. Even if you aren't into the gluten free and vegan life, you can adapt this and add meat or use good ol' gluten filled pasta. Mix and Match!
5. Serve with Basil and shredded parmesan.
[In the picture above, you can see I used real parmesan, but if you're going super low-cal and all vegan, shred some almond based, vegan mozzarella.]
We're already twelve days into this crazy new year. This year, I am into starting fresh and not waiting to be what I want to be in the future, but taking 2017 by the horns and being who I want to be and know God is calling me to be now. This Gems to Love is a few things I'm loving this new year that are helping or inspiring me to be what I want to be.
This year, I've committed to be the person I want to be. I'm over the whole resolution thing. I don't do well just staring at a list of things I want to accomplish. Some of the best advice I ever received was "you will be what you are now becoming". In other words, whatever you practice now is what you're going to end up being. This year, I want to be happy, healthy, and having the characteristics of the woman I know God wants me to be. One of the things I really want to start doing is taking care of my skin. I love makeup, love, love, love it. The problem is, for the past 5 years, I haven't really done much of a skin care regiment besides using makeup remover wipes and calling it a night after a long day of make-up wearing. Unfortunately for me, skin is sensitive and scars and wrinkles when you don't take care of it, and my skin was not too fond of the job I was doing. So this year, I'm making my beauty treatments and routines healthy so my face can be wholesome and happy. These are my best tips and tricks so far:
1. Give yourself an ice facial before applying makeup
I totally didn't believe this trick would actually make a difference until I started trying it, and now I do it every day. When you wake up, cleanse and wash your face and then apply an ice cube to your face and rub it on your skin for 45-60 seconds. The ice reduces the pore size, redness, and any swelling on your face. Dry your face and apply your moisturizer, and then you're good to go with the rest of your makeup.
2. Apply your makeup in the right order
If your application process is out of order, your skin might be getting oils and dirt trapped under all of your beauty products. Never pick or prod your face before applying makeup, it could make your face greasy or spread dirt and bacteria around that will mix into your foundation. The correct order of makeup application is to first wash your face with a cleanser, apply a moisturizer, primer, foundation, concealer, powder, bronzer and blush, and highlights. Washing, moisturizing, and priming are super important steps to keep your skin hydrated, clean, and protected.
3. Drink for your skin
Water will always help your skin, but carrot juice, ginger teas, cinnamon, and citrus can really help keep your face bright and happy.
4. Don't be dry
A lot of people are confused about moisturizing your face. People tend to shy away from moisturizers because they don't want to add any more oil to their already acne prone or oily faces, but all skin types need some moisture. Many times, pimples are a result of skin that's lacking moisture. When your skin is dry, it creates oils to treat the dryness, which leaves you with blackheads and cystic acne. Keep the dry away and ask at your local makeup counter or beauty shop for a moisturizer specifically for your skin type to get a perfect match for you.
Toning is one of the most important parts of skin care. Toners help keep your skin even, bright, and at balanced levels. I use the Target store brand toner in a blue bottle, but you can find toners anywhere that will work for your skin. If you aren't into a lot of non-vegan products or products with chemicals, you can use apple cider vinegar. Just apply your toner to a cotton pad, then lightly to your face right before you moisturize. This will remove any left-over grime and keep the pimples at bay, while balancing and freshening your skin for a happy glow.
6. Attack premeditated zits
Some zits show up unannounced, and some are a long time coming. When you spot one on the way, get it while you have the chance. I like to do a Yes To cucumbers or tomatoes mask once a week, and also wash my face with a charcoal facial soap weekly to deep clean and prevent bacteria build-up. If a zit makes it through even still, then I apply a tiny drop of toothpaste to the area and leave it overnight. The toothpaste dries the spot and keeps zits from growing.
Leave your favorite happy, healthy skin tip in the comments!
What can I say, I'm a woman of many anklets. My mother tells me they look like a weird sock, and my sister thinks that every time I walk down the hallway it's her cat's collar jingling, but despite that, I'm pretty happy with my collection.
The first one that stuck around is my purple and black striped bracelet. It looks like it survived the plague, but when I first picked it up, it was sitting in a gift shop on the Santa Monica Pier. It was the June, a little family vacation for my sister's birthday, the end of a long, long month. I had just finished a semester of Bible College. I had spoken up about the abusive relationship I was in, but he had lied and it felt like the whole world didn't believe me. But despite everything that felt like a million pounds weighing me down, it hadn't been that bad of a day. It was actually one of the best days of that whole, upside-down year. We walked the beach, drove through Hollywood, I took a picture in front of the Jonas Brother's old house, it really can't be much better than Nick Jonas's childhood home am I right, it was a nice day. The whole mess of a month was a reminder over and over, trust God, trust God, trust God. I had the song Oceans on replay on Spotify, so I picked up an anklet at the gift shop on the pier and put it on, thinking over and over in my head the words to the song. I haven't taken it off since.
The next year was another psycho year, so there wasn't a lot of anklet collecting happening. I had gone back to school after summer, my PTSD made living on campus impossible, and I was sent home by the school because some people had started rumors and reported to the deans that they thought I was anorexic. Not exactly a charm you want on your ankle bracelet. I spent a few months at home and planned on going back, but the crazy all started up again and instead, I moved to Massachusetts for a few months. The snow was fine feet high everyday I was there, so also not an anklet I need reminding of. But then that March, I stated dating my current boyfriend. We're the cheesiest ever, so we got "friendship bracelets" and there was little blue anklet, number two. We took a trip with my family to California that summer and he got us matching shark tooth bracelets, that we still argue about weather they were actual shark teeth or not, and that was number three. I went back to Bible college, back to where my abusive ex was attending, and had the hardest six months ever. One day, while I was hiding in my room as I always did, and made a super ugly red anklet, and there came anklet four.
Number five came from the bookstore at the church I started interning at last January. It's a little lace bracelet with a gold compass charm, perfect for global ministry.
From there the anklets have gotten a bit happier.
When I had gone back to Bible college, most days I sat in my room all day after classes, because I was afraid to go outside, so I always used to think of Rapunzel, becuase I felt stuck and trapped somewhere. So, anklet six is a pink and gold braided bracelet, because I put it on when I started to feel like I was free again. Cheesy, I know, but Tangled is my Disney-spirit-movie. Haters 'gonna hate.
Seven is a rainbow anklet that was made by refugees I bought at a conference in LA about racial reconciliation. Crazy weekend, life-changing, note-book full of notes, super cute anklet.
Number Eight is a tiny gold pineapple that some of my favorite people in the world gave me for interning with them.
Number nine is a euro I put on an anklet, from my first time to Europe when we stopped in Germany on the way to Egypt.
Good ol' number ten is a red and white wrapped anklet I found at a bazaar in Cairo, my first international trip.
They're stacking up, and I often get asked if I'm a vegan because of my array of anklets, [Not sure I really understand the correlation, but I do love me some Native Foods, so go figure] but I love my collection.
At first I wondered if I should start taking them off. I started collecting when the mess of the past few years started to get crazy, so last year when I moved to California and began the process of starting fresh, I thought maybe I should lose the old memories that came with them. But, I realized more than anything, they weren't so much a reminder of the pain, they were a reminder of the things God had grown me through and gotten me past. I wish I could erase the years. I wish I could do it over. There's people I wish I never would have met and places I wish I never would have gone, but, if I hadn't been there, I wouldn't be where I am now. I wouldn't have found my voice. I wouldn't have grown a heart for what God wanted me to be an advocate for. I wouldn't have met the people who changed my life. I wouldn't have been able to see God work all the places I've seen Him work this year. I wouldn't have gotten on a plane to Egypt and had my world flipped.
In Luke 5, Jesus heals a paralyzed man. This is crazy for like eighteen different reasons, one mainly being, Jesus heals a man who can't move. This man's friends dig a hole in someone's ceiling, drop this guy down to see Jesus, and Jesus not only heals this man in a matter of seconds, He forgives him. Then, he tells a paralyzed man who was just lowered through someone else's roof to get up, pick up his mat, and go home. I heard one of my favorite kick-butt, Jesus lovin' women, Bianca Olthoff, speak on this passage not long ago, and she mentioned how interesting it is that Jesus told this man to not just get up and go home, but to take his mat. The mat he layed on for years, likely even his whole life. He probably dreamed about the day when he could walk and leave the mat in the dust and forget it forever. I would stand up and say no way, there's no way I can lug this dusty thing around anymore, grab me some stilettos and let's walk to Starbucks, I'm a free woman!
But Jesus said to pick it up and go. Obviously, Jesus didn't want this man to be constantly reminded of pain and suffering and to keep the mat as a token so he could dwell in misery for the rest of his life. Jesus set this guy free, spiritually and physically, that's what He wanted the once mat-ridden man to be reminded of.
Not every old trinket is a former paralyzed man's mat or some crazy kid's collection of anklets. It's good to refresh and get rid of the old things that weigh you down and remind you of things better left forgotten and in the past. But, God doesn't allow anyone to go through trials and pain without having a purpose for them to stand for on the other side. For the man, it was the mat. For me, it's some old bracelets I put on my ankle. Whatever yours is, remember why God told you to pick it up and take it with you.
Christmas is over, the holiday parties are done, but don't worry, The Bachelor is back. And the best part about watching The Bachelor? Watching it with your people. I threw a lil' bachelor premier party last night, and it was pretty swell if I do say so myself. Get some inspo and ideas from my slideshow for your own Bachelor Viewing Party 🌹
I'm in love with all these charcuterie boards, so when I snagged one at an after Christmas sale, I knew it would be perfect for this party. I put served some fun, fancy cheeses and prosciutto wrapped mozzarella. I also got a cheesecake sampler platter so guests could choose their own flavor, which also added to the whole "which will you chose" bachelor momentum.
I strung up some of my favorite twinkly lights for some romantic lighting, and used a rose table mat with a hand-drawn brown paper table runner. I picked up some blush pink napkins and plates, and used some vintage dessert trays. I added some roses here and there to keep in theme and add a nice extra touch.
Thank you God for a life changing year. For my wonderful family, my new, incredible friends, my boyfriend who loves a crazy pants like me, my trips and adventures, blessings on blessings on blessings. Last year, I reluctantly took a little chance and moved to California and my world got flipped and shaken and knocked right off its feet, and I couldn't be happier that it did. It would take me a year to explain how much God changed and taught me and continues to do, so, here we go. Welcome 2017, we're glad you made it here.
Warm up with a toasty warm sweater outfit this winter ❤