Beauty Is… Influence | Rachael Kincaid

July 28, 2016

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Photos C/O: Rachael Kincaid

I’ve always been small. I’m shorter than most of my friends and have had long hair for most of my life.  My face is covered in a faint smattering of freckles, and I’m usually described as cute.

I used to hate it. I wanted to be pretty,  striking or hot. Nowadays, I tolerate it. There are worse things than being thirty and cute, right?

But here’s the thing – I’m starting to feel beautiful.   This might be the most beautiful season I’ve ever experienced as a woman.  I’m not talking about just my looks., because most days, I don’t feel as attractive as I did before four kids came out of my body.

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So what’s changed over the last few years? I’ve cultivated influence. I’ve married, acquired stepsons and had children. I’ve built a ministry. I’ve invested in solid, ride-or-die friendships and built relationships with the next generation. I’ve made it my mission to dig deeply into my community. I’ve committed to a new level of vulnerability with the people I call home, to allow them to bring out the best in me and point me to Jesus.

These days, people are looking at me. Like, really looking at me –not judging or whispering as I walk by their lunch table. They’re asking how my heart is. They’re digging beneath the surface of small talk. And they’re asking me to look at them, and pour into them.

My family looks to me for wisdom, advice, and a soft place to land when they fail. My friends don’t hesitate to serve me with feedback, encouragement, love, affection, and correction. The teenage girls I lead value my opinions on their eyebrows, personal style, and how far they decide to go with their boyfriends. On any given day, people all over the world might read my blog or scroll through my Instagram feed and make a split-second decision about Jesus, just from peeking through my lens.

None of these groups are mind-blowing in number. I’m not talking about big stats and monster platforms. This is real life. Family, friends, the folks I bump into on the Internet.

But here’s what those groups have in common — me.

 

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In some shape or form, I come into contact with all of these people. I touch them. They touch me. And it’s my choice whether or not to lean in, and be careful with their hearts in the process. It’s my choice whether or not to acknowledge the gift I’ve been given with them… my influence.

Strange as it sounds, once I began to feel the weight of the influence I carry, I began to see the beauty in it.  Influence is beautiful. Sacred.  As I brushed up against the idea that I could take hold of my influence and use it for good, I began to feel more beautiful. For the first time in my life, I could see clearly what my purpose is: to love God and love people. That’s all I ever have to do in this life.

Influence is freedom, and it is beautiful. It’s holy work, and I’m honored to do it.

Accepting responsibility for my influence made me care more about beauty than ever before, but in a healthy way. I started working out regularly — not to get skinny, but to take care of my temple. I actually don’t have time to feel insecure or negative about my body because I’m doing holy work.

So now I put in a few hours a week at the gym and try to watch what I feed myself. I pay more attention to my wardrobe. Not because I want approval from people, but because I know that teenage girls are watching me. I care deeply that they grow up to believe that God’s definition of femininity and sexuality exists to give them the best life possible.

I believe that Jesus is big enough to bring things full circle.  He’s kind enough to use our unique personalities in ways that teach us things about Him. I may forever be short and cute, but I’m beautiful because He’s asked me to use my influence over the small tribe He’s given me, and equipped me in all the right ways to do it.

XO,

Rachael

Capsule | Havana Nights

July 26, 2016

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Photos c/o Sara Kerens

**WARNING** This is (technically) not a capsule post.

My sister was in town recently, and we went to TopShop to look at the new Beyoncé athletic wear collection because we have priorities. Beyoncé and work out clothes are my two favorite things, and to have them combined? Well you can just watch me drop the mic and single ladies dance my way out of the room.

Much to my dismay, the only size left was extra extra small.

But turning my lemons into lemonade (if you don’t get the reference…stop everything and watch Beyoncé’s film Lemonade) I turned away from Bey’s workout clothes, saw this dress, and added it to our pile.

My sister was on the hunt for something to wear to the Beyoncé concert (go figure). And I didn’t need anything, because I’m doing the Capsule and being a good girl.

But then I tried this dress on.

And I twirled in it.

I thought of Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, and my secret dream of dancing salsa in Cuba under the stars and it was all over for me.

Capsule or not, I had to get it.

I feel like a sassy salsa dancer every time I wear it, and always end up twirling my way through the city.

Sometimes you just gotta throw the rules out the window and have a Havana Night.

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Boss Ladies: Kelli Murray

July 21, 2016

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Photos C/O Taryn Kent and Liz Anne Photography

Growing up I really wanted to be
An animal whisperer

My most-used emojiis are
The laugh-crying smiley face and the ‘hallelujah’ hands raised to the sky

My go-to order at a coffee shop is
Decaf iced vanilla latte

I don’t know how I ever lived without
Netflix

One thing people don’t know about me is
I am a closet introvert and petrified of public speaking.

My real life hero is
My dad.  He started his own screen-printing business out of our tiny garage when my sisters and I were babies (and he was just 22).  He worked hard and provided us with everything we needed.  He had a ton on his plate but made us feel like we were the most important thing.  I now have an even deeper respect for that as I try to navigate my role as a mother and business owner.  He coached every sports team I was on, attended every art show… he taught me to dream big, work hard and have confidence in who I am.

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What I love about my work is
That it’s something that I truly enjoy.  I’ve always loved to create.  My job allows me to utilize my creativity everyday.

The hardest thing about my work is
It never shuts off.  My mind is always thinking about what to do next (and there is always something when you own your own business).  Deadlines also often force the creative process, and it’s challenging to pump out good work when you are not feeling inspired.

How I got started with my current career
My first love was fashion and I worked as a fashion merchandiser and graphic designer for a clothing company straight out of college.  I fell into illustration while trying to expand my portfolio in graphic design.  It quickly grew to be a passion and eventually led me to quit my job and focus on my art as a freelance career.  When I had my daughter in 2011, I had a hard time finding baby clothes that spoke to my aesthetic.  I started a collection of my own — Rylee & Cru — hoping to fill a gap in the market.

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My typical day looks like
I have “work” days and “mama” days (as my daughter calls them).  My work days start around 6:30 when the kids get up.  We make breakfast, watch cartoons / play outside / dance in our underwear until the nanny comes at 10.  I work from a home studio, so I am available if the kids need me.  I have 10am – 5pm, 2 days a week, to pump out as much work as possible.

My work includes creating new art patterns, designing silhouettes, communicating with our factory, directing photo shoots, and posting to social media. I also manage my etsy shop, which offers invitation designs and art prints, and do sponsored collaborations for my personal blog and social media accounts.  A typical day involves a lot of juggling!

My mama days are my favorite and usually involve the beach or frozen yogurt! My husband owns a retail store called Lone Flag, so there’s a lot going on.  We treasure the time we have together, though it’s often hard to come by.

I used to think success meant
Making money, having things.

My current definition of success is
Being happy, finding your purpose.

An example of when I had to push through my fear was when
The overall process of launching Rylee & Cru was really scary.  It was a huge upfront investment, and I had major doubts about whether people would respond.  I was already a freelance artist, but starting a brand was different… the clothing line was completely my own.  I designed it.  I put my blood, sweat and tears into creating it.  There was something vulnerable about that.  I had to look past my insecurities about the brand’s success and do it because I believed in it.

 

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I know my work/life balance is out of sync when
I know I need to step back for a minute when I start to get agitated or impatient with my family.   This usually bubbles up when I am overwhelmed by a project and can’t find time to get it done.  It’s funny how a little time for myself — something as simple as getting outside and exercising or going on a date with my husband — can reset my mind. Having grace with myself is a key component to my sanity.

The last time I created something I was proud of was
I just finished a painting for a good friend.  It was a commissioned piece with a lot of creative freedom, two concepts that don’t often go together.  It felt really good to get paint on a canvas again, and create something out of the normal context of work.

I wish I could tell my younger self
Following the crowd won’t get you anywhere.  Don’t be afraid to be you.  You’re enough.

The legacy I hope to leave is
More than anything else, that I loved people.

XO,

Kelli

Capsule | Safari

July 19, 2016

One thing immediately became apparent when I began the capsule wardrobe experiment : almost every outfit I tend to wear is some form of shirt and pants.

I don’t often wear dresses or skirts; and on special occasions I wear jumpsuits.

I really like the way a jazzy pair of pants makes me feel, and I like switching the top to dress it up or down. I found these embroidered beauties at General Store in SF. They remind me of something my mom would have worn.

And paired with a button up and a tan hat, I feel like I’m going on a chic Safari. I don’t hate it.

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Hair + Makeup and Photos c/o Melissa Hoffmann

xo,
Em

Real Talk, Real Moms : Growing Your Family

July 15, 2016

real talk : growing your family

(photo I took to announce our pregnancy…our furbaby Odin wearing a bonnet made by Aaron’s mom!)

How do you know when it’s the right time to have a baby? There’s a lot of practical advice out there, but the only way I can answer it is to tell you our story.

My husband Aaron and I met at UCLA and married young. I was 23 and he was 22. I had just spent a year in Japan after graduating with my degree in Sociology, and Aaron had an internship in Biotech. We had no idea where we were headed in our lives, but we knew who we were going with.

I quickly realized a desk job wouldn’t be a good fit, so I worked at our local coffee shop until I could decide what to do with my life. One year in to making lattes and schedules and ordering cups, and I was miserable. Aaron insisted I find a career that would make me happy.

I decided to launch a photography business and figure it out as I went along. The photography was easy and running a business was a bit more challenging. But I loved it.

We always said we would start a family after 5 years of marriage. But at the 5 year mark, I still felt like I had so much left to do. My business was my baby and travel was my ultimate passion. I didn’t want to stop pouring into my business, and couldn’t let go of the freedom we had to travel whenever we wanted.

I felt like if I just went on a few more trips, I would be ready to start trying. Our 5 year anniversary was in March of 2013. We went to Paris in June, I made plans to go to a Jose Villa Workshop (one of my dreams!) for that November, and booked my first destination wedding in Bali for June 2014.

I got pregnant in July of 2013, which was a lot sooner than I expected. I was 5 months pregnant and cranky at Jose’s Workshop in Mexico (less than ideal), and we carted our 12 week old infant with us to Bali (for the record, totally insane.) In retrospect, I tried to cram a lot in before it was “too late,” maybe at the cost of my own mental health.

Looking back, I don’t think checking anything off my to-do list would have ever been enough. Especially when it comes to business goals — there’s always a bigger one just beyond your grasp.

Although I didn’t personally feel ready, I knew that Aaron and I as a team were ready. While we weren’t especially good at dividing up our household chores or doing meal planning, we were emotionally ready. We put in a lot of mileage together, learning to communicate when we were frustrated with each other, and resolving a lot of conflict with one another. Parenting is hard on marriage, so I’m thankful that we spent the time learning to grow together.

Now that we have a child, I can’t imagine our world without her. While I cherish the time we had together without her, I now can’t wait to travel with her, and grow together as a family.

This post is in collaboration with some rad real moms! To hear their take on Growing Your Family – The When + Why – check out :

The Effortless Chic / Apartment 34 / The Life Styled / AVE Styles / Parker Etc / Sarah Sherman Samuel / Sugar and Charm / Could I Have That / Sacramento Street

xo,

Em

Capsule | My Summer Go-To

July 14, 2016

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Photos c/o Sara Kerens

The very first CD I ever owned was Ace of Base.  The summer of 3rd grade I blasted ‘I saw the Sign’ on my boom box so many times that my dad came to my room one day and told me if I kept doing it I would ruin the song.

I was quite a literal child, and remember feeling so confused when he left.  I thought if I kept listening to the song that my CD was literally going to break.   Thankfully for me and to my dad’s dismay the CD didn’t break when I burned a whole through it playing it on repeat all summer.

Two decades later and still not much has changed.  After hearing a new song I like I’ll listen to for 10 days straight until I need a break.  I’m all in.  I’m the same way with clothes.  When I find an outfit I love I’ll wear it as often as I deem socially acceptable which is basically every other day until it is falling apart.

There’s usually one outfit each season that’s this way for me.  This summer it’s my white tank, black cotton shorts, and black wedges.  All of which were purchased at Target — the whole outfit under $60.

If you see me on the subway or out and about this summer in the city; it’s highly likely that I’ll be listening to Lemonade on repeat with this outfit on repeat.

XO,

Kat

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Em’s Summer Capsule : Shorts + Tee

July 12, 2016

We’ve officially declared it the summer of easy dressing.

As much as you all know I love to invest in my wardrobe, summer is the easiest time to find some affordable and fun options to play with.

I found these shorts at Buffalo Exchange, the top at Zara, and the sunnies and bag from Target. I think the key to finding pieces that don’t *look* cheap is to stick to classic patterns and neutral colors.

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xo,
Em

Hair/Makeup + Photos (!) courtesy Melissa Hoffman

Hold my Hand in the Daylight

July 7, 2016

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You slid your fingers into mine, and suddenly it was just you and me…

Cheeks red from a day at the beach; it was our last night.
The whisper of fall was in the air, but we played like an endless summer was ahead of us.

Through the crowded patio you walked behind me.
It was loud with bar banter, and music, and waves crashing in the background.
You put your hands on my shoulders and pulled me near to tell me something.
It felt safe to be close to you.
Then you stepped in front to lead the way.

As we walked your hand slid down my arm until our fingers intertwined.
You gave my hand a squeeze, and everything stopped.
I looked up and saw the smile on your face.
I could have walked a thousand miles with you — as long as our hands stayed together.

But like the night, it was fleeting.
The music came back to the foreground and the waves crashed against the shore.
We said our good byes.

And I waited.

I hoped for you in the daylight.
Because I want you in the daylight.

I remember that night, and I’m taken back to the butterflies in my stomach. I felt like I was floating.

The night is carefree and full of unknowns.
Things unfold in the dark that may never happen during the day.

Stepping into the light takes courage.
There is clarity; no hiding or confusion.
No mistaken intention.
It’s clear: you’re making a step toward me, and I toward you.

To live in the shadows is safer.
There’s less at stake. Less disappointment. Perhaps less rejection.
But the light demands risk, hope, and vulnerability.

So I wait for the man who will move towards me in the light.
Walls down and hearts open.
And we’ll hold hands in the daylight.

One Piece Bathing Suit

July 5, 2016

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Photos c/o Tutti del Monte

When I wear make-up and a killer outfit I can feel pretty.  But when I’ve spent the day at the beach, and my hair is salty, I feel  beautiful, free and confident.

When do you feel most beautiful and free?  Is it when you’re in a ball gown headed to a black tie event?  Maybe when you’re in your power suit going to a meeting, or perhaps when you own that red lipstick on a night out?

I have always felt beautiful, free, and confident in two scenarios:

  1. After a hard workout when I’m dripping sweat, and have my hair pulled back, and no make-up on.   Maybe I feel more connected to myself because my muscles are tired and achy.  Or maybe it’s because I grew up on a tennis court drenched in sweat.  Whatever the reason, I’ve always felt beautiful while working out.
  2. When I’ve spent the day at the beach.  If I could bottle  the mixture of sunscreen, sweat, sand and dry salt water, I would.  I welcome the crunchy feeling of sand in my hair and between my toes.  I’m not even upset when I find sand all over my car and in my sheets for days after the fact.  The sun brings out thousands of freckles all over my face that can disappointingly be hidden under make-up.  Spending the day at the beach makes me feel alive.

I can feel insecure in a pair of jeans that don’t feel just right, or when a shirt hugs me in the wrong places, and self-conscious when I wake up with puffy eyes from not enough sleep.  But for some reason, when I’m in a bathing suit with no make-up on and wet hair, I feel beautiful.   It’s weird because being in a bathing suit is the most exposed our bodies ever are in public.  It’s vulnerable, and I know it can be a painful thing for a lot of people.

When I am exposed and vulnerable, I realize there are no flaws, no imperfections, just my perfectly created body.   And that is enough and beautiful right now.

We took these pictures after a long  workout followed by swimming and playing in the ocean for hours.  The photos were impromptu, but as I looked at my sun soaked legs and felt my salty, crunchy hair, I felt lovely and free.  All I wanted to do was remember those moments, and that feeling.

I have noticed that the more I love and embrace my body, the more I am able to see the beauty in those around me.  I wonder what would happen this summer if, instead of begrudgingly putting on your suit,  you choose to see your body for what it really is:  a  beautiful, complete gift.  Don’t love some future or past version of yourself, but love yourself today, right now. Embrace your body and choose to love it.

Maybe we’re all so insecure because we shame our bodies and the bodies of those around us.  What if we made the tiny choice to love our bodies as they are?  To replace  body shaming with body embracing.  Every negative thought turned to a positive.

Instead of tearing each other down, why don’t we high five each other for having healthy legs that take us through our lives without complaint.  Instead of comparing which girl wore it best let’s applaud that there is no cookie cutter for beauty.  I think we’d be shocked at the beauty and freedom we’d experience–not just in ourselves, but in our friends, families, and spheres of influences.

If I want to see a culture free of body shaming, comparison, and criticism, then I get to first see the beauty in myself and own it boldly.

Today that’s what I’m doing.  I’m saying to myself, to you, to anyone who reads this that I love my body.  I love my make-up free face and the freckles all over it.  I love how I look and how I feel in my bathing suit.

I am beautiful….and so are you.

XO,

Kat

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Learning to Listen | Capsule Yoga

June 30, 2016

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Photos c/o Tutti del Monte

Hot tears streamed down my cheeks as I recounted how my knee snapped in yoga.  My physical therapist listened intently.  As my tears subsided she compassionately began to respond.

The more I listened to her the more something became clear to me:  I do not know how to listen to my body.

Thankfully my ACL was not torn, but there was a deep sprain in my knee and a minor tear in my IT band.   But now my body had my attention.  As we developed a plan for my recovery we uncovered that I have muted the warning signals of pain, and subtly been pushing my way into poses for which I am not ready.

That’s when I realized the existence of pain can be a mercy.  There’s pain that says STOP, this hurts, and if you keep going it’s going to really hurt.  And there’s pain that says this is annoying and uncomfortable.  But if you stay with it and keep showing up it will get easier, and there will be growth.

As a collegiate tennis player I was taught to bulldoze through both types of pain.   All that mattered was that I could perform throughout the season.  My life before and after practice revolved around being stretched, lathered in numbing cream, heated, iced, and wrapped to get me playable. 

Pain was not a tool for me to listen to, it was an annoyance for me to push through.  So when the alarms of pain would start to whistle–whether on the court or in the weight room — I learned to silence them and keep moving.   Pain was weakness, a pesky fly distracting me from greatness.

This was my mentality for years.  Limping away from my collegiate career, my 21-year-old body felt trapped inside the bones and joints of an 80-year-old.  I never thought I would be able to work out again.  Anything I did felt painful, and it was like this for most of my 20s.

This changed when I started yoga.  Instead of it being about winning and pushing through, it was about  being present and honoring where I was at on any given day.  It was about listening to my body, letting go of comparison, and letting go of my attachment to where I think I should or shouldn’t be.  This has been revolutionary for me.

Over time I have grown and let go of unhealthy habits; it’s been healing both to my body and my spirit.  Moving through yoga has been like peeling the layers of an onion.  Moving past one layer only to discover another area of growth waiting to be peeled back.

When my knee snapped and I collapsed to the ground a few months ago, the first thing I felt was terror.  My mind went to the worst case scenarios of a torn ACL, and that I’d never be able to work out again.  I kept thinking, how did this happen, and why did this happen?

The thought of not being able to do yoga felt devastating.  And the same old fear of never being able to work out again reared its head.  The pain continued to worsen, and I made an appointment with my physical therapist.

Sitting across from my  physical therapist I began to wonder if this was yet another layer being peeled back.   I had an opportunity in my physical pain to dig deeper, to learn and grow.

Although I can’t say that I’ve done this well every day, I am committed to listening to my body.  Taking time off completely from my practice was torture.  But I used the time to listen — to really listen to my body.  And as I started to bring yoga back into my life I became keenly aware of how I push it in little ways.  I discovered that if I want to be healthy and able to practice yoga for a lifetime,  I  need to slow down, and bring other forms of exercise back into my life.

This process has been humbling as I’ve had to modify some of the most basic postures and slow down in my day to day life.  It’s been frustrating at times when I want to  run outside and play in the park, and have  to be content with reading and being still.

It left me in tears  when I realized I couldn’t  attempt one of my favorite poses because the warning bells of pain were ringing in my ears.  Instead I sat quietly and waited for the next sequence to begin.

Another layer is being peeled back.  My injury truly was a mercy.  I’m thankful it wasn’t worse, and I thank God that this has allowed me to see how I ignored my body for so long.  Pain is my friend, my ally — not an enemy to stomp on or shoo away.  The days I get to practice and sweat have become even sweeter than before.

Slowly,  I am learning to listen to my body.  I’m learning to listen for and feel the signals that have been there all along.  My body is always saying things to me.  The invitation is for me to have the humility and willingness to not only listen, but respond.

XO,

Kat

 

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