Life / Motherhood / News

A (love) letter from the editor

11.07.17

I still remember my first outfit post with The Refined Woman: a metallic tweed pencil skirt, tights & nude pumps, a cream and nude cardigan. It makes me cringe and it makes me smile.

my style has changed. a lot.

In the beginning it was so simple, I never could have imagined what The Refined Woman would become or how it would change me. It all started with Kat and I – our friendship and a shared devotion to J. Crew. When she approached me with the idea of expanding The Refined Woman beyond a feature on her wedding photography blog, I couldn’t say yes fast enough. 

I jumped on board as a way to explore my love for fashion, to highlight my style and have an excuse to put together outfits. It was a passion project, an escape from my normal work as a photographer. It was also a way to work on something with Kat – it was thrilling to be starting something with a colleague and friend. After spending many hours a week staring at a computer screen, I loved the idea of joining a team. Even if it was just the two of us. 

our first big photoshoot with Bess Friday. I wish these pants still fit.
our first (and only) christmas card. I was pregnant with charlie here.
photoshoot with jessica burke for our first big website redo.

Over the years The Refined Woman has changed a lot – we’ve gone from sharing style stories to our real life struggles with singleness, pregnancy and postpartum depression, along with the stories of countless women I admire.

The evolution of The Refined Woman has been a reflection of the inward evolution of my own heart as well. When we started, refined meant polished. Eventually it came to mean the process of being refined  – being shaped, smoothed out, molded in the fire. And this process has been messy and, at times, very painful. 

Running a business with your best friend is all fun and games until you disappoint her. I never imagined that Kat and I would have so many hard conversations as we have navigated being in different time zones and going through various intense life circumstances. 

When we started, my ideas of success involved fame, fortune and front row seats at New York Fashion week. I see now that the success we have achieved is of a much different — and far more valuable kind. God intended to use The Refined Woman to refine me as a person.

I never knew how much I could possibly grow in until I started failing my team. But I also never could fully appreciate just how special my own gifts were until my team told me so.

It’s easy to think that some things are easy simply because they’re easy for you.  Kat and I may have a shared love for blue jeans and Justin Bieber, but our strengths could not be farther apart on the spectrum, and finding out where I fit has been a priceless gift.

The Refined Woman team has taught me more about myself than perhaps anything else I’ve done save for my marriage to Aaron almost 10 years ago, and that self knowledge cannot be bought cheaply. I am forever grateful to Kat for her willingness to enter into the messy with me so that we could grow and push through to everything we have accomplished together over the past 6 years. 

So why am I walking away now?

Because I can’t do all the things.

Because Motherhood.

Because I have to choose. And I choose myself. Choose health. Choose my kids. Choose my marriage. 

We praise the superwoman because she does it all. 

But that’s not who I am and it’s not who I was made to be.

 

Mom Life. Photo by Gina Foti
party of four. photo by Ashley Kelemen.

And that’s not who The Refined Woman is either. Together we’ve realized a truly refined woman has grace on her side. She says no sometimes. She is able to find life and hope in a “no” even if that no is to something very, very good. The Refined Woman is a good thing, but I am hoping in a new season for myself. 

Even after having kids, I have still tried to do it all. I am all about dream-chasing and hustling, and I have a partner who supports my work 110% – even when he is tired and even when it’s hard for him.

On the one hand, I could use that support to keep moving forward. On the other hand, it compels me to choose a new path for us, one in which I slow down and find a more sustainable route.

I don’t want to perpetuate the illusion that you won’t sacrifice a lot to keep chasing your dreams. I have started to see some sacrifices mount. Because being a mom (for me) requires 110% of myself, and I’m not naturally organized or disciplined.

I’ve noticed that many areas of my life have been suffering in service of all my work– important things like my sleep, my health, and finally, but maybe most devastatingly, my creativity. My God-given joy in creating beautiful things, which is at the very core of who I am.

This is a price I am unwilling to pay. So it’s bittersweet to walk away from something as good as The Refined Woman. I adore the community we have built and I cherish every single comment, every woman who has taken the time to tell me what this space means to them. It hurts to walk away from pouring out for you. But I feel the shift of a new season for me, one that is focused inward to reclaim some of myself.  I want to say yes to new possibilities and new creations waiting to be revealed in me and by me. 

I have loved being on this journey so far, I hope you’ll stay in touch with me, because I will forever be here for you. 

xo,

Em

4 comments on “A (love) letter from the editor”

  1. I support this, and although I know how it can make the heart hurt to move out of such an important season of your life, this is a healthy decision!
    As a mother myself, sometimes I fear that I’m not doing enough- knowing that there are women out there who work, “hustle”, and mother all at the same time… And then there’s me. I’m home most of the time, “only” mothering. However, not only was THIS my dream for my life, I know that the time I use here at home pouring into my child is irreplaceable and deeply important.
    In Titus 2, it talks about what the older women should teach the younger women about life… I especially like the part that says to love their husband and their children, and to take good care of their home. For me, that doesn’t mean cleaning and cooking and slaving away at home… it means creating and environment in our home that truly makes it a “home”. What is sustainable for each woman in this area is going to look different, but for me, that means giving 110% of myself to my son and my husband from here at home and not trying to divide my time with other pursuits.
    Anyways- all of that to say, I support your decision. It holds a lot of weight and value.

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