Boss Ladies / Life

Boss Ladies | Molly Hayward


Photo C/O: Tasha Van Zandt

Molly Hayward is the visionary female founder of Cora, a brand that gives women a modern method for managing their periods. With body-conscious organic tampons and sustainable menstrual products given to girls in developing countries for every monthly supply sold, Cora is transforming the experience of womanhood on a global scale. While living in Mill Valley, California with her boyfriend, Liam and her dog Stella, Molly has become the first entrepreneur to establish a modern, pro-social brand, presenting the issues of healthier products and women’s global social justice to the mainstream female consumer.

Growing up I really wanted to be​
Someone who helped those in need. I was always campaigning my childhood classmates to collect money for UNICEF and raise awareness about issues, like girls not being allowed to attend school in places around the world.

My go-to order at a coffee shop is
Soy latte. Bonus points for fair trade, ethical coffee.

I don’t know how I ever lived without
A home near the ocean.

One thing people don’t know about me is
I live at the top of a mountain.

How I got started with my current career
I traveled as a volunteer in Kenya and learned girls there often stayed home during their periods. I immediately knew I wanted to create a brand that could represent the smart, modern, sophisticated woman while helping provide products to girls in need around the world.

What I love about my work is
Having the opportunity to make a real, tangible difference. I’m passionate about innovating in the field of women’s health and I’m passionate about keeping girls in school during their periods. Creating and growing Cora has allowed me to do both, and I’m especially proud of the number of girls we’ve already helped. In 2016, Cora provided 250,000 biodegradable pads to girls in need; in 2017, we’ll provide more than one million.

My real life hero is
The girls in India and Kenya that Cora provides pads to. They overcome tremendous obstacles just to go to school each day.​

The dumbest thing I did when I was starting out
Try to do everything myself.

My typical day looks like
I have no typical day! Each one is completely different, but usually some mix of wake up, run, shower, head to the office, check emails, have meetings, feel so much gratitude for my amazing teammates. The only constant is my morning coffee!

I used to think success meant
Getting to retire early.

My current definition of success is
Getting to advocate for women’s rights globally for the rest of my life.

I know my work/life balance is out of sync when
I have trouble finding things to be grateful for.

The last time I created something I was proud of was
I’m proud to have collaborated with designer Katarina Hornwall​ to bring our new Freedom Necklace to market. It was created as a symbol of the pro-period movement, representing the idea that our periods are not something we need to hide or be ashamed of, because every woman on the planet menstruates. The necklace holds a single applicator-free tampon. And for every necklace purchased, Cora will give a year’s worth of menstrual pads to a girl in Kenya through ​our giving partner, ZanaAfrica, so she can stay in school during her period.

I wish I could tell my younger self
Trust that life will take you exactly where you need to be in every moment.

The legacy I hope to leave is
A world where no woman or girl is disempowered by her period, or any other aspect of being female.







Outfit | A(nother) Ode to Levi’s


I love a good pair of Levi’s. Light-wash, broken-in, button-fly, booty-huggin Levi’s. There’s a reason they haven’t really changed for 50 years. They go with everything in your closet and they get better with age.

If you’re not into thrifting like I am, there are still plenty of ways to find a good pair. You just need a measuring tape and a few good online shops. I’m going to give you a quick education to finding your perfect fit.

Step 1 : Find a pair of pants that fits you snugly and that sits at a higher rise on you, somewhere around your belly button. Lay them flat and measure from the crotch to the top hem. That is the “rise”.

Step 2 : Laying the pants flat, measure the waist. In vintage jeans the size on the back tag does not usually correspond to your modern size you are used to wearing, because this denim was bought raw and shrunk to fit. So the tag size will usually read 1-2 sizes larger than your modern size.

Step 3 : Measure your pants from pocket to pocket, to get your hip size.  Lastly, measure the inseam from the crotch to the bottom hem. It helps to do this on a pair of pants that is cropped a few inches above your ankle.

Step 4 : Find a vintage shop online that gives you the waist, rise, hips and inseam measurements. Note also that for these jeans, they will stretch a bit to fit you after a few wears, so you want to size a little bit down so that they don’t bag out after time.

Here are a few of my favorites online shops for Levi’s. (I know there must be so many more! Please leave me some comments below if you have a favorite I missed. )

Shop Future


Fair Season Vintage

Courtyard LA

My top is by Miranda Bennett Studio, Mules c/o Freda Salvador + Hat (borrowed from Taylor) by Janessa Leone / Photo Location Le Marais Bakery in San Francisco

Happy Levi’s Hunting ladies!



Life / News

Deirdre King | Integrity in Consumerism


Deirdre King

Photos c/o Brittany Barb for Indego Africa

Deirdre King is Indego Africa’s long-time creative director where she does all product design, manages brand partnerships and oversees branding, creative and sales. She lives at the Jersey Shore with her husband and two toddlers, Iris and Albie.

As a little girl my grandmother taught me how to embroider. I have very fond memories of spending time with her each summer at her home and learning new stitches and picking out little sampler kits to try. We would sit down on her couch and she would pull out her sewing baskets with piles of linens, napkins, half-finished projects, needles, thread, and pin cushions and we would carefully go through them to pick my newest project.

My favorites were floral cross stitch designs, and I would proudly decorate my room with my finished projects – white dresser linens and pillow cases with light pink flowers and bright green leaves and vintage textiles with churches and figures for the days of the week.

My sisters and I each received special handmade gifts from her at our birth – patchwork quilts, framed needlepoints, handknit blankets and cross-stitch embroideries. When we were born, it was important to my grandmother to be able to handcraft us a gift as opposed to buying something mass-produced. For her, that gift would carry meaning and love through each stitch she made.

When we got older and she began teaching us how to sew, she wasn’t just giving us a new craft to keep us busy, she was passing something that she loved on to a new generation, and helping us learn how to create something beautiful with our own two hands.

While I always cherished those lessons, it wasn’t until I was much older that I could really appreciate the detail and dedication to craft that my grandmother instilled in me.

The full significance and beauty of handmade craft – and the integrity within it – really came to light when I started working at Indego Africa in 2010 and began to explore the world of artisan made products. This same dedication to craft and technical detail that the women of Rwanda and Ghana that we work with – and artisans throughout the world for that matter – bring to their handmade work is mind blowing.

These artisanal crafts – basket weaving, embroidery, bead work, handknitting – are passed on from generation to generation as income-generating tools and treated as family heirlooms themselves.

I’ve sat down with these women and watched them start a plateau basket (our best-sellers which are sold around the world) and have been blown away by what goes into just finishing the first spiral of the bowl. Some baskets take up to 120 hours to make! It can be overwhelming to feel the weight of that skill and effort in your hands. It is important to these artisans to share their work and to show others what goes into their trade.

Now, as I design products for Indego Africa – and as I think about what I want to teach my children about hard work, personal integrity, and empowerment – I often think about how proud I was of the embroidery I did, and why it was important to my grandmother to show me why she loved the craft so much.

I see this pride evidenced in the products our artisans partners make too. I hope I always appreciating the craft and hard work of others, and I hope my children do as well.

As a shopper, I am now very cognizant of what the items I am buying represent. Who made them, how were they produced, what is the story behind the creation?

Things I never thought of before – how the inlay on a table was carved and with what tool, where the wool in a sweater was spun and what was used to dye it, what sort of plant did the fiber inside the weaving of a bag come from and who realized it would look like that when harvested in a certain way (this last point particularly blows my mind).

These are questions I can answer for Indego’s products and for many of the ethical companies I support, but not for the majority of the items we see day to day in the stores we frequent. We should care about these things as consumers and look for more information.


The Refined Collective // Movement

Photos c/o Sara Kerens // This post is a part of our monthly Refined Collective Series.  Be sure and check out the other ladies involved in this months conversation:  Lauren Scruggs, Brynn Watkins, Jackie Viramontez, and other ladies on our instagram!

Lately, I’ve noticed how many lies and fears I accept as truth.  Through conversations with loved ones, I’ve seen that they do it too.  It’s as though there are certain areas of our lives where we’ve thrown in the towel.  We end up believing this is just the way it is; it’s a part of my life/circumstances/how the world works—there’s nothing I can do about it.  

Enough is enough.  For all of us.

Why do we accept fear and lies in our life?  I think there are a myriad of nuanced answers to this.

Moving through fear takes courage, commitment, and time.  There’s not a quick fix.  Transformation isn’t overnight; it’s a process.  And it’s hard work to dig into our thought life, belief systems, and world views and challenge the way we live.  It can feel easier—and sometimes is—to just stay where we’re at.

Recently I had a compelling conversation with a friend.  We sat on a bench facing the Manhattan skyline and poured our hearts out to one another.

She’s an aspiring artist, and for years has really wanted to make it.  But there’s always been an excuse for not going full throttle.  Whether it was her full-time job, lack of time, connections, or resources, she always justified why she wasn’t where she wanted to be creatively.

She finally got tired of it and zoomed way out of her life to figure out the why behind the excuses.  Buried deep underneath was fear of failure, rejection, and success.

Her words gripped me as she confessed how much she had sabotaged this dream because of fear.  I completely resonated with her.  Flashes went through my mind where I could see my own excuses and glimpses of sabotage.

Excuses and the story lines we tell ourselves keep us stuck.  We may not be back peddling, but we’re definitely not moving forward.  Reflecting on my conversation, I started addressing my stories—the ones I have used time and time again:

I don’t have enough money
I don’t have enough time
I don’t have what it takes
If they really knew who I was, they’d reject me in a heartbeat

I’ve also self-sabotaged by:

  • Waiting until the last minute to do something.
    • Paying my credit card late because I didn’t want to deal with it, and getting a penalty.
    • Waiting to address conflict until it was so bad that the relationship was damaged in a way that it wouldn’t have if I had just addressed it earlier.
  • Creating unnecessary drama to prove my stories were true.
    • Dating womanizing, commitment-phobic men.  When things inevitably ended I felt worthless.
    • Not filling my car up with gas because I didn’t want to waste time to stop, and then running out of gas and wasting way more time.
    • Not giving myself enough margin to get to a place in a timely manner.   It further proved to me I never had enough time.

It is hard to admit these things, and difficult to shift out of them, especially if it’s how we’ve lived and what we’ve believed for the majority of our lives.

Growth is always worth fighting for.  And healing is possible.   Whatever that may—heartache, addiction, body image. It is difficult, but moving toward freedom—no matter how hard or tiny the steps we’re making—matters.

Once my friend was able to be brutally honest with herself about the lies she believed, she was able to make a choice: keep believing the lies, or move through the fear.

She has done the latter by making an actual game plan, inviting others into the dialogue for support, and step-by-step actively choosing truth.  The amount of movement she has made towards her artistic dreams in the last three months alone has been massive.  It’s a clear picture to me of how growth, freedom, and breakthrough is possible.


Now you may be thinking—that’s great—but what about ME?  What are tangible ways that I can start moving through my own fears.  What are the tools I need to start walking in more freedom?  Click here to download my Moving through Fear:  A Practical Guide to Living a Fear Free Life PDF.  And remember it’s a process.


4 Things to Try : September

photos by gina foti

4 Things to Try : September

1. Men’s button ups – These are the perfect thing to wear when I’m momming it up on the daily. Button ups are ideal for nursing and the oversized shape works now postpartum and will still look good oversized should I ever make it back to the gym. I always hunt for these when I’m thrifting – I look first for soft cotton or linen blends with good detailing. I love the safari pockets on this striped one.

2. Sailor pants – I truly don’t think I’ll ever get tired of the high-waist, wide-leg style of these pants. There is something so flattering about this cut! The high waist acts like a girdle and holds everything in. Mine (by Jesse Kamm) are an investment piece, but if you’re not sold on the style yet Everlane makes a great and affordable pair – I haven’t tried those ones because I tend to be too tall for a lot of Everlane cuts but I love this review by Style Bee.

3. Mules – Tired of Sandals, but not quite ready for boots yet? Mules are the perfect season transition footwear. I also give them bonus points for being lazy mom approved – just slip them on and go. This Freda Salvador pair is my new favorite.

4. Old man glasses – After a freak contact lens accident on vacation I had to wear my glasses all day I realized my thick frames made my head hurt, so I put in a quick order to Warby Parker to get some that I could wear easily and wouldn’t give me a headache. But turns out I kinda love this style! I’m now on the hunt for some vintage frames with this shape as well.



outfit details: top – thrifted (similar here) | jeans – jesse kamm | mules c/o freda salvador | glasses – warby parker | hat – (similar) preston & olivia 

Life / The Refined Collective



Chinae Alexander // Photos c/o Kat Harris, The Refined Woman // Written by Kitty Williams for The Refined Woman

The sidewalks of Williamsburg are busy with people, some walking in groups, some walking alone looking at their phones. Sitting at an outdoor table at a small café, Chinae Alexander tries to put to words the many things she does in her life.

Alexander is an entrepreneur, a speaker, and a social media personality with a focus on lifestyle and fitness. Her career aspirations have shifted over the years from fashion magazine editor, to event planner, to where she is now. Through all of these professions, there has been a consistent and powerful driving force: people.

“I remember sitting in a diner on 33rd and Lexington and writing down all the things I loved in my life,” says Alexander. She found that human connection was the common thread. Now, she interacts with women in meaningful ways, whether in person or on social media.

Alexander emphasizes, “It’s about finding what’s badass about you and bringing that to the surface.” She notes that it already exists within everyone; it just needs to be realized.

It’s not her goal to change people or show them how to be like her, but rather to show them that the life they want is possible, and they won’t be alone on the journey to making it a reality.

Alexander believes that, while people should make an effort to better themselves, they should also maintain self-love throughout that process. She has always been a confident person, and she wants to help others feel the same.

Her confident attitude isn’t limited to certain chapters of life. No matter where she has been in her life, either professionally, personally, or physically, she has always maintained confidence as her baseline; it is not circumstantial, and that is the key.

She also hopes to be an important presence in the lives of others by simply being there. “If I can make people believe that they are not alone in their thinking, their sorrow, their joy…” says Alexander, “whatever it is, if you can tell people they are not alone, there’s hope there.” Her social media presence is an open one that invites followers to feel as though they are friends.

When with other people, it is easy to fall into a trap of not taking enough care of herself. Alexander finds that it’s important for her to eat well, exercise, and focus on community.

Taking this time for herself to relax and reset can sometimes be attended by guilt, especially when she has to say no to certain things. “I have to be a good sane person to do any of it,” says Alexander. She is learning to be honest with herself and others when it comes to what she has the time and energy for. Remembering a specific moment when she was honest with someone, she says, “It was so freeing.”

Alexander speaks lovingly of her mother, noting that her mother always believes in her. “Every time I talk to her in my life she’s told me she’s proud of me,” says Alexander. Her mother has been supportive every step of the way, including when Alexander decided to move to New York City.

Her first introduction to New York City was watching Home Alone 2 as a child. “[Life in New York] is nothing like Home Alone 2,” says Alexander. She pauses for a moment, then adds, “besides pigeons being everywhere.” As she got older, her view of New York went on to be shaped by shows like Sex and the City where she heard of “this place called the West Village.”

When she was in high school, she had the opportunity to visit New York on a school trip. While most of her classmates were off mixing into crowds of tourists, Alexander went in search of the West Village with map in hand.

Seeking shelter from pouring rain, she found herself in a French café. She remembers hearing jazz music playing and seeing people sitting around with newspapers, coffee, and friends. “It felt like a movie,” she recalls.

She remembers thinking, “I have to live in this city, and I want to be one of those people.” Now, Alexander has been living in New York coming up on ten years. “I am one of those people now,” she says. “I have become the person that I wanted.”

Pondering whether she’ll stay in New York forever, she says, “I think for the first time, I’m living freely without a plan in that way.” She loves New York, but she wouldn’t be heartbroken to leave it or spend her time in both New York and California.

“My growth is daily leaning in to what the world has for me,” Alexander says. She is welcoming of changes that may come, but she knows the most effective growth comes only when she is consistently mindful of core values and old lessons learned while effecting that growth. Helping promote positive growth in others is a natural extension of her willingness to grow herself. Her common thread remains: people.

Inspiration / Life / Wellness

Healing Anxiety and Creating a Tribe // Goal Digger Podcast with Jenna Kutcher


photo c/o of Jen Trahan // design c/o Jenna Kutcher

We’ve been social media friends for years through our photography businesses.  And somehow commenting on each others photos turned to emails turned to text messages, then phone dates.  From day one even though we lived miles apart — me on the Coast and her in Wisconsin — she’s always felt like tribe to me.

We finally got to meet in NYC last year and over we dinner talked about life, our dreams, and struggles.  It affirmed to me that Jenna Kutcher is the real deal.  She is authentic, business savvy, full of depth, generous, and the person you encounter online is the person you meet in the flesh.  She lives her message and has expanded exponentially over the last few years.

When I got a message from her asking me to be on her Goal Digger podcast (with over a million downloads) I was honored.  Since she started Goal Digger I secretly wanted to be apart of it, but had no idea what that would look like.  It came at the perfect timing–like most things do.  We chatted about my struggle with anxiety and my commitment to building community.

And now it’s live–my very first podcast!  Please check it out, and let me know your thoughts, and if you have any questions or feedback!



Boss Ladies | Manuela Testolini


Photo C/O: In a Perfect World

Manuela Testolini is the head of In a Perfect World, an organization she founded to empower the next generation by creating programs that provide education, mentoring and artistic expression to under served and at-risk youth around the world. In addition to In A Perfect World’s work of building schools, providing grants to inner city classrooms in need, and helping to facilitate youth-driven moments of service, Manuela has created a unique Youth Ambassador Program in which she trains young people to be philanthropists and community leaders themselves.

Growing up I really wanted to be
As young as 9 years old, I wanted to be an attorney… probably because everyone said I’d make a good lawyer when they couldn’t win an argument with me.

My go-to order at a coffee shop is
Genmaicha or Jasmine Green Tea if they have it… if not, any kind of green tea.

I don’t know how I ever lived without
My iPhone! I resisted getting one for so long because, back in the day, a business phone = Blackberry. But my husband bought me an iPhone after we had our first child and I was so happy to have a phone with a quality camera to snap photos and video of our little newborn girl. I still miss having a real keyboard though.

One thing people don’t know about me is
I’m pretty shy but I’m also a daredevil. Jumping out a plane? No problem. Speaking on a stage? Ah, not so much.

My real life hero is
My mom. She left her home country (Egypt) at 21 to visit a cousin in London for 2 weeks and never looked back. She loves adventure! She lived in London for some time then moved to Paris, learning English and French along the way. Within 3 years, she had met my dad, married, moved to Canada and had me. She’s fearless.

What I love about my work is
I am fortunate to be in a position to positively impact the lives of thousands of people, children in particular.

The hardest thing about my work is
Not being able to help everyone. Seeing a problem I can’t immediately fix.

How I got started with my current career
I became disenchanted with the legal system and took some time off to volunteer in a homeless shelter. I knew I had found my calling. I wanted to work hands-on with people to change their lives. I parlayed that passion into doing consulting for different foundations and eventually started my own.

The dumbest thing I did when I was starting out
I tried to take on way too much! I’ve learned to be strategic and to align myself with the right partners.

My typical day looks like
By 6:30, one or two little munchkins wake me up. Then I go straight into getting the kids ready for pre-school or whatever excursion we have planned for the day.

Once the kids are off to school, the juggling starts. I’m at the office checking on work for the day or on my way to my first meeting. I plan meetings from 10-3 so I can pick up my kids at a reasonable time.

We are home by 4:30 and I start making dinner while they work on art projects or just run around together.

We eat dinner together, always. We talk about our day, what they learned, what I learned. And all the politics that happen at pre-school.

If we have time, we go for an after-dinner walk. My toddler likes to “hunt” for snail shells and the eldest is practicing on her bike. It’s a good meditative time, winding down, reconnecting with nature after the busy days we have.

Bath time! During which I’m usually sitting on the floor of their bathroom folding laundry.

I get the kids in PJs, they choose the book they want to read before bed. Sometimes there’s a 2-song dance party to Blame It on the Boogie or Shake Your Body.

I get them both in bed and then I get to round up my day, hopefully having a glass of wine with my Eric husband while we watch Rachel Maddow or Trevor Noah..

Last thing I do is check the calendar for the next day and the next couple of weeks, trying to make sure I’m not overbooked. I’m a very hands-on mom, so I’m the one taking my kids to gym class, birthday parties, all of that good stuff. Between that and both my daily work and travel, I rely heavily on making sense of my calendar.

What does integrity in the workplace look like for you?
There’s a great quote by Oprah that I think sums this up: Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody is going to know whether you did it or not.

I used to think success mean
Never failing.

My current definition of success is
Being able to revel in failures as much as you do successes, recognizing them as opportunities for growth and enlightenment.  

An example of when I had to push through my insecurities
Every time I visit a new community we’re working with in the developing world, it can be daunting. I stay with host families in rural villages, with no electricity or access to clean water. It is all a leap of faith — to immerse oneself in a remote community, facing new foods and a language barrier, surrounded by people I don’t know.

I know my work/life balance is out of sync when
When I’m eating a protein bar for dinner and falling asleep at my laptop. There is a fine line between working hard and working smart. An email sent at 2am isn’t going to get read until the next morning, so why not sleep and send the same email in the morning? It really is about self-discipline.

The last time I created something I was proud of was
I’m most proud of creating opportunities for young people, especially girls, to have their voices heard and their dreams manifested. Most recently, I was privileged to attend the inauguration of a school that we built in Malawi. Words can’t express the pride I feel knowing an entire community will be forever changed through education because of the school.

I wish I could tell my younger self
Not be such a perfectionist. It can be a prison.

The legacy I hope to leave is:
That my children know their mommy worked really hard in service of others and that it was all worth it.



Beauty Is ...

Beauty is… Knowing Where You Begin | Madison Hedlund


Photos c/o Kinsey Mhire

Madison Hedlund is a life coach and speaker who helps women own their story, step out of fear and shame and come alive to their most vibrant, confident selves. Known for her soulful spirit, she brings authenticity, power, and creativity into all she does. Whether she is working with clients, facilitating a workshop, or speaking to a large group, Madison’s deepest desire is to see women truly come alive.

Is your people-pleasing keeping you from living fully alive?

You’re an amazing daughter, sister, wife, friend. You serve others, sacrifice your own needs, and love to make others happy, but in the midst of all your giving, something feels off.

Keeping the peace, rising to meet expectations, and bending over backwards to make others happy takes a toll on your spirit! We people-please only to later feel resentment and frustration at the ones we love most. We make ourselves small, swallow our tongues, and lose our voice to keep the peace, and after a while, it doesn’t feel so good. In fact, it leads to a heap of ugly emotions welling up inside!

If you’re sacrificing your dreams to keep the peace, if you’re going against your values at work, if you’re allowing your family’s expectations to dictate how you live, or pretending things don’t bother you because you’re afraid to bring up drama and come across as “overly sensitive,” then you’re out of alignment.

If this is you, hear me please: there is another way! You’ve got to get into integrity with what your heart is telling you! It’s as simple as aligning your inner world with your outer world; setting boundaries that allow you to live with genuine love. Meaning, you can still be loving and honor your limits.

How do you do this? It’s all about knowing where you begin.

1. What do you stand for?

If you have never done a values assessment or written down your mission statement in life, now is the time. Grab a journal and answer some of these questions: What are your values? What 5 areas of your life are the most important to you? What qualities do you admire the most? What are your priorities right now?

When you are clear on what you stand for, you have an outline on what to say yes and no to. You can give your energy to the things that uphold your values, support love, and bring the most joy into your life. This allows your “no” to actually protect love, allows you to give more, and upholds the life of integrity you long for!

2. Get honest with yourself.

Nothing feels more “yuck” than receiving a gift from someone who feels burdened by gifting it. You can sense the lack of genuine love, the resentment, and frustration. That’s what it’s like to give from a place of obligation instead of overflow. (AKA: you’re not fooling anybody!)

You must get honest with yourself and set clear boundaries.

A simple tip: do a journal “brain dump” and write down all the raw and honest feelings you have about your commitments and the boundaries within your relationships. Are they serving you? Are they making you resentful or overwhelmed? Do they uphold all the good things you stand for?

This exercise will show you where people-pleasing needs to end and where new boundaries need to be set.

3. Live in alignment.

When you know what you clearly stand for and are honest with yourself about where you can truly give, you can begin to shift from people-pleasing into heart-life alignment. Living like this will allow you love so much better; your gifts are given in generosity and gratitude. Your “yes” becomes a “hell yes!” and your energy is devoted to what matters most, and you, well you are fully alive, in your power, and owning your life.

People-pleasing cuts us off from our inner voice and keeps us living on everyone else’s terms.
It keeps us living in fear and it masquerades as love. Genuine love, however, knows where it begins. It allows us to give from an overflowing cup, to give without the need for approval and honor our truth in love. Living in alignment allows you to say yes and no and mean it.

Let go of your people-pleasing and start to live from genuine love, a love that is rooted in your values, honesty, healthy boundaries, and an overflowing cup.



Life / The Refined Collective

The Refined Collective // Just Breathe


Photos c/o Morgan Ashley Jo for Anthropologie

Selah is a Hebrew word found throughout the ancient poetry book of the Psalms.  The Psalms have always inspired me because the authors are so relatable.  They blissfully cry out to God in one moment, and in the next breath utter their despair and angst.  It makes me feel a little more normal toknow people who wrote such profound literature were emotionally all over the place.  They were full of doubt and fear and also faith—I can relate.

A few years ago I decided to look up the meaning of selah.  I would read through a psalm I liked, and breeze past it without a second thought.  Only in hindsight do I see how ironic this is!

When the author ended a thought of particular importance he inserted the word selah.  It’s an invitation to be still and reflect.  Somehow the author knew we would breeze through the poetry like we breeze through life:  rarely stopping to be present to the moment at hand.

Maybe it’s because he, too, struggled with flying through his thoughts and days.

Finding this out changed the way I read the Psalms.  Whenever I noticed a poem had the word selah in it, I’d get excited to practice its meaning.  Instead of rushing through I tried to linger.

I began to physically practice it by breathing the word.  Inhale ‘Se’ exhale ‘Lah’.  Try it.

God is our refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear though the earth

gives way,

though the mountains be moved into the

heart of the sea,

though its waters roar and foam,

though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

Selah. (Psalm 46:1-3)

Inhale Se.

Exhale lah.  

Even just typing it feels restful and relaxing.

This helped me slow down my reading and be more mindful to what the writer was saying and feeling.  And as I began to implement this, the idea of selah began to seep into the other parts of my life.  Selah became so impactful that a few years ago I got a tattoo of the word on my left forearm.

The other day I practiced selah with a few friends.

I woke up to a summer rain – and when it rains I just want to stay in bed all day and snuggle and watch movies.  But I opened my window and as I smelled the rain, and heard the drops splatter onto the balcony I suddenly wanted to feel it on my body.

When I was a little girl my sisters and I loved when it rained in the summer.  Mom would let us play outside in our bathing suits.  We’d stand under the drainpipes and let the water (which I’m now positive was dirty and disgusting) wash over us.  It was exhilarating.

I couldn’t remember the last time I played in a warm rain, but I had things to do, emails to write, photos to edit, so I sat at my computer.  But I kept looking longingly out my window.  After a few minutes I ran downstairs to my friend’s apartment and asked her to play in the rain.  My argument must have been strong, because a few minutes later we were running in the middle of the street splashing in puddles.  We weren’t out there for long, and when we made our way back into the A/C we were sopping wet and shivering.  But I had a smile on my face that wouldn’t leave.

We chose to immerse ourselves in the gift that is this moment.

When was the last time you paused?  When have you felt most present or rested?  It’s easy to get swept away in tasks that take us steadily through the day until we check Instagram as we turn our lights out at night.  But what if we started to practice selah?  Whether that’s reading an actual psalm, or taking a 5 minute walk, or turning your phone on airplane mode for an hour and being fully present to dinner with a friend.

When we learn to be still, breathe, and linger, we learn life is more about being than doing.



This series is apart of The Refined Collective.  Be sure and check out the other ladies and their thoughts on this topic too:  Corie Clark, Jackie Viramontez, Julien Garman, Tutti del Monte, Nikia Phoenix, Brynn Watkins, Jessica Chow, Tonhya Wysong, Joanne Encarnacion.