Then I Did Something I Never Thought I’d Do…

April 17, 2015


Photos c/o Jessica Burke + Kat Harris | See Full Article on Redeemed Girls Blog

By now I thought I would be married and living in Dallas Texas with a few kids and a mortgage. I thought I’d be volunteering at a church doing women’s ministry on the side. I thought it was a good plan.
But here I sit here on an overcast Friday morning in April single, in my grey yoga pants, typing away on my laptop in my Brooklyn apartment. The life I expected to be living was a good one. Yet here I am. Never did I ever think I’d be living in New York City as a full-time photographer and running my own women’s lifestyle and fashion blog. If I have learned anything about God it’s this: His plans for our lives are far more creative and imaginative than anything we could think up on our own.
How did I go from being a Bible Major at Dallas Baptist University to a woman in the fashion industry of New York City? Great question.
For two and a half years in college I played on a full ride tennis scholarship as a fashion major. But I finally got to a point where I was completely burnt out and my identity was wrapped up in who I was as an athlete. My whole life revolved around tennis for as long as I could remember. It was what I was known for; it was what I was good at. But I began to wonder who I was without the titles and accolades. When I walked away from tennis it was both liberating and terrifying. I transferred to a small baptist university in Dallas and declared a new major: Biblical Studies. I was one of the only women in my major, and man did I ruffle some feathers. I was ready to be the next Beth Moore. I inhaled my textbooks like they were oxygen. I sat on the front row of all my classes rapidly taking notes, and asking questions every thirty seconds.
Throughout my time at DBU my passion to invest into the lives of women grew. I led small groups, worked as a camp counselor in the summer, and mentored high school girls. And then another thing happened. My last year I college I realized that I replaced my identity as a tennis player as a leader in the church. I loved leading, teaching, speaking to girls. But it became an identity for me. My last semester of college was the first time since I had become a Christian 6 years earlier that I wasn’t involved in leadership at my church.
When I graduated college I accepted an internship in San Diego to work for a non-profit doing advocacy for a war-torn Northernw Uganda. I moved into a house with 50 other interns from all over the US. We traveled in vans with each other to share stories of child soldiers. We made less than $10 a day, slept on dorm room floors, our vans and even in fields. But it was some of the best memories of my life. I learned that our lives are our mission field. You don’t have to be on staff at a church to be doing ministry. That was incredibly powerful for me to experience. I also learned that we’re all creative beings. The first thing God does in Genesis is create. Since we are created in His image each of us to our core are pulsating with creativity. It’s just tapping into what is my vehicle of creativity, and then using it for His glory and purposes.
This rocked me because I never felt like I was a creative person. My whole life I was an athlete. Then I became Katherine the Christian. Realizing that I was also a creative turned my world from black and white to endless color. After my internship was over I made a commitment to myself and to God that I would start pursuing things that I never pursued out of fear of failure, or simply because I thought I wasn’t creative.
I was living in Newport Beach California taking vocal lessons, hip hop dance classes, and began to fall in love with photography. I had always loved photography, but never did anything about it. Somehow (God’s grace and favor in my life) I landed a full-time job with Mike Colón, one of the top wedding photographers in the nation. I could hardly turn on a camera let alone tell you anything technical or photography related. But I’m stubborn and a hard worker, and knew I’d never know if I was good at it if I didn’t give it a try. Mike saw something in me, and took a chance. Working for him opened up this whole new world to me. From editing to running a business, to shooting manual, to posing, to taking chances he taught me everything I know. He brought me to all his weddings, to shoot New York Bridal Market, and I got to sit in and produce all of his workshops. What I found over my almost 4 years of working for Mike was that I not only loved photography, but I was pretty good at it.
Even though I never had the desire to run my own business I couldn’t get past the nagging sense that I was supposed to. In May of 2012 I left a stable paycheck and a wonderful family to start my own business.
I’ll never forget being flown to New York to shoot my first big editorial campaign. At the end of a long day of shooting my model quietly came up to me and said “No photographer has ever treated me so kindly”. It stopped me in my tracks.

Next fall I was shooting New York Fashion Week and after editing through thousands of runway images I felt this nudge inside to start a fashion blog for women. It was the last thing I wanted to do. The last thing the world needs is another fashion blog. But it made me crazy that everything we see in magazines are women half my size, completely photoshopped and wearing clothes that I could never afford.
I started to dream. What if there was something out there for real women? A space that said yes fashion is fun but it’s not who I am? A place where we started being honest about our fears, insecurities, hopes and dreams? What if instead of comparing ourselves to each other and tearing one another down, we linked arms and impacted the world together? So in January 2013 I did something that I never thought I’d do. With my friend Emily I started The Refined Woman.

Then in the summer of 2013 I did another thing that I never thought I would do: I moved to New York City. Are you starting to see a theme here in my life? In between layovers, blog posts, editing, client meetings, picking up gear, tearing down sets, shooting weddings, interviewing women something started to become very clear to me: my heart to invest into the lives of women never changed. The vehicles for it just did.
Now it’s April of 2015 and I feel as though my life is coming full circle. My love for Jesus and my love for women is intersecting through what I do. I don’t work at a church and probably won’t ever (but who knows…my life has been full of saying yes to things I never thought I would do), but I believe what I do is my ministry. For some reason God keeps blessing The Refined Woman and expanding our platform. I’m honored that I get to be apart of a conversation to women that says ‘You matter because of whose you are’.

I believe God wants to redeem all things, and that includes the fashion industry. I believe that our culture is begging for a deeper sense of purpose. With a thousand messages being given to us each day screaming that you’re not enough, you’re too much, saving sex for marriage is a thing of the past, you are your own destiny, I invite you to stand with me offering our world and our women a different option. The option that there is hope, value, identity, worth and power in Jesus. He has a plan for our lives, and it may…no it will look different than what we think. But I can attest that it is far greater than any journey we’d go at alone.
I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I know this: God has me here in New York City in the fashion and photography world for such a time as this. While my vehicle may change over time, my vision will remain the same: Love God. Love people.

Beauty Is…A Choice

April 14, 2015

So we’ve never actually met in real life, but Liz Larsen is a girl that I am so inspired by.  We have mutual friends back in Texas, and recently did a project together.  The more we emailed the more I fell in love with this tenacious, grounded, and beautiful soul of a woman.  Her story gives me goosebumps and blesses me so much + I am so honored that she would share it with us on Beauty Is.





Photos c/o Lindsey Shea Photography

Looks can be deceiving, wouldn’t you agree? Working in the fashion industry and spending a good chunk of time on social media, I’ve decided we’ve officially become pros at editing. We know how to make anything look good, right? (Throw a VSCOcam filter on there and you’re good to go!)   Sure it’s easy to know physical beauty when you see it, but what is it that makes someone truly beautiful?

You know the kind of beauty that moves you, draws you in, and changes you.  I feel like we should probably know this by now. But why is it that I didn’t really know the answer to this question until a few years ago…


Growing up I was taught that beauty came from within, but believing that while living in a culture that told me quite otherwise was a hard sell! It kind of felt like one of those “thanks Mom and Dad, but you have to tell me that.”   Trying to live up to the expectations of my surrounding culture was exhausting and seriously unfulfilling. Thankfully, a few years ago my life took a very sharp and unexpected turn.

I went from being the girl next door who would stay up to all hours of the night baking dozens of cupcakes for a charity fundraiser to becoming pregnant after being slipped a date rape pill by a stranger and nine months later a single mom. I went through a whirlwind of emotions: denial, guilt, shame, anger, confusion and did I say denial? I wanted to hide. I thought my life was over and that there was nothing I could do to change it.

The End.  No wait…just kidding:)

The crazy thing is that couldn’t have been further from the truth. The day I had my daughter is the day that my life changed for the better and beauty took on true meaning.  Instead of letting the world tell me who I was or wasn’t, I turned to God.

God met me right where I was and showed me how beautiful the story he was painting in my life was.   I thought I wanted the cookie cutter life that I had dreamed of, but then I realized that God knew me better than I knew myself.  He had something far better, far more beautiful in store for me.  He gave me strength beyond my imagination and hope for the future. It became clear to me that life is what you make it out to be, and that beauty is a choice.

I now have the most beautiful daughter who brings so much joy, laughter and spontaneity into my life! True beauty is choosing to love the life that you’ve been given.  It’s finding joy in all the ups and downs, and choosing to let the curves and swerves of life strengthen you.  It’s being confident in who you are right now, not some future version of you.  Sure, my body didn’t look like it used to, and my bank account was pretty much drained after the first year of being a mom.  Eighty percent of the time I felt like I didn’t have the answers, but I chose to not let that define me anymore.

I decided to embrace what was happening and who I was becoming. That’s the moment I started to feel beautiful and free.

Free to be me.


I found an unexplainable, invincible sort of strength that I never had before, the kind of strength that only God can provide.  For the first time in my life I had the guts to really pursue my dreams.  I quit my job in the corporate world and I started Accessory Jane.   I didn’t have a ton of money to invest in it, or a killer ad campaign to jump start the business.  But I had a ton of spunk, determination and a team of cheerleaders supporting me all the way. It’s been empowering seeing the business grow and expand as we’re getting ready to launch a bridal line end of this summer!  I’ve got a lot of growing to do, and Accessory Jane does to, but I’m happy with who I’ve become in this process.  I love helping women feel beautiful and encouraging them to find their beauty within right where they are.  And I love getting to do this with my daughter by my side!! I mean how incredible is that?!

What I really want you to know is that no matter who you are, where you come from, what has or hasn’t happened to you along the journey, whether you feel hopeless or on top of the world:  you get to make a choice! What are you going to do with this life of yours and the time you have?  You get to choose whether you’re going to make the most of it or not. Everyday I remind myself of this choice and turn to God for direction.  Knowing that he’s in control and that he’s got this! He’s in the business of making stories beautiful.

Everyone has a story, a beautiful and messy story. Beautiful people don’t just happen. It’s through the choices that they make with the opportunities that they have that make them beautiful and significant!


Liz a.k.a Accessory Jane



begin | my birth story part 1

April 7, 2015

I’ve told the story of Charlotte’s birth more times than I can count in the past year. But when it comes to writing it down, I always just stare at the blank page or screen and struggle to just begin.

Maybe this is because I know that once I start, I will have to finish it. I will have to wrap up my feelings about it in a nice little package for you and move on.

The reality is that this past year my heart has been messy. It’s all over the place. Every time I am able to share Charlotte’s birth story with a new friend I feel different things and find new thoughts about the experience. It’s hard for me to sum anything up right now, even one year later.

I will say that I felt the strongest I have ever felt in my life. Birth is the only kind of pain I’ve known that feels productive and good (surprisingly, I don’t enjoy working out, but people tell me that is a good pain too… I’m not sold on the idea.)

I guess the only thing left to do at this point is begin.

my birth story / photo by elizabeth messina

photo by elizabeth messina


The weekend before I went into labor we were dying to see “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” but we had promised to wait and see it with our best friends. I joked that we better see it Monday night JUST IN CASE I had the baby. I was only 38 weeks and everyone had convinced me that as a first-time mom, my girl wouldn’t be arriving until at least 41 weeks. But we went to the movies on that Monday night anyways because we really wanted to see it and we thought we should see as many movies as we could before a newborn arrived on the scene.

The whole time we were in the theatre watching I kept feeling an uncomfortable tightening off and on. I fidgeted and squirmed in my seat the whole time. But I was convinced that if it WAS pre-labor contractions, I would be one of those women doomed to have them for the next two weeks, so I mentally settled in to wait it out.

That night, I woke up every hour? few hours? with a tight, brief contraction. But thankfully since I was mentally ready to wait these out I managed to go back to sleep every time.

The next morning, the same contractions were coming infrequently. I casually texted my mom and my doula that I was having some contractions, just in case, but also trying to be breezy. I’m BREEZY, guys. (You can’t say you’re breezy.)

A dear friend of mine texted me around 10am telling me she had some bad news. She didn’t want to upset me and make me go into labor, she joked. I don’t remember if I told her it was potentially too late for that but I did tell her to come over anyways so we could talk.

I walked the dog and texted her back. The only shoes that fit my swollen feet at that point were my sheepskin slippers and I was wearing some stretched out elastic sweatpants and I thought to myself, I wouldn’t be that mad if this baby did come soon.

I couldn’t know how soon she really would.

My friend arrived around 1pm and we had a long chat in my living room about our upcoming trip to Bali (oh, you know, just 10-12 weeks post baby. If you didn’t know by now, I’m completely insane sometimes)…and how she wouldn’t be able to join us to help me shoot the wedding I was scheduled to shoot there.

Normally this might have upset me but I was in this weird, peaceful fog. There’s no other explanation except for that it was supernatural. I just knew that I had a bigger task ahead of me, you know, in a general sense.

As we finished talking we moved into the nursery and she helped me rearrange some of the furniture in there, and it quickly became clear that my contractions were the real deal. I think my friend’s exact words were – “I think these are the REAL THING. You better time them.”

So as I laid on the twin bed in the nursery laying down between deep breaths I downloaded the app for that. And I started timing.

Around 4pm, my contractions were about 7 minutes apart.

As I said goodbye to my friend that afternoon, I texted Aaron and told him I was probably actually in labor. And that he better not work too late tonight…

(To be continued…)


OUTFIT | Wedding Guest At Long Last

April 1, 2015

Always a wedding photographer, never a guest.

UNTIL, this past weekend! It was GLORIOUS. We got to dress up, drink champagne, monopolize the photo booth and dance all night.

I love this beaded gown I got to rock, thanks to Adrianna Papell. I felt like a classy mermaid!

I accessorized it with a Gorjana necklace that came in my newest Rocksbox set, which is pretty much always the best package to open every time it shows up in my mailbox!

adrianna pappell the refined woman

bacara wedding guest : the refined woman

the refined woman : wedding guest at last

adrianna papell for the refined woman

beaded gown detail adrianna papell

golden hour bacara santa barbara




*This post is in partnership with Adrianna Papell + Rocksbox – all opinions expressed are our own

The Refined Man is VULNERABLE

March 26, 2015


As many of you know this past year I have fallen in love with yoga.  I’ve practiced at other points in my life, but it wasn’t until meeting Tutti last fall and trying out Yoga Vida here in NYC that my love affair blossomed.  It has been an incredible blessing to my body + soul, and I have felt stronger and more balanced than I have in years.


I started taking Zander’s classes at some point, and immediately connected with him.  He resonates with a philosophy that I live in my life “how you show up for one thing is how you show up for everything” + I learned quickly in his classes that so much of what he teaches applies to life “off” the mat.  Like living a balanced life, being present, letting go of things we can’t control, and so much more.  I’m so excited to have him talking about vulnerability today on The Refined Man.  And if you’re a local NYC’er or Brooklynite be sure and check out his retreat ‘The Yoga Adventure’ May 15-17th in upstate; it’s going to be wonderful!




When most men hear the word vulnerable they think weak or sissy.  The kind of vulnerability that I’m talking about is not the lost child kind or the naked at school kind. The refined man becomes more powerful through the vulnerability of being honest with his challenges, and sharing his story to empower and connect with other people.  To be a refined man means being open to life, to love, to change, and to growth.  He says yes to what life throws at him, and is not afraid of pain or being hurt.  There is a bold confidence you get when living an unapologetic life that is not concerned with others people’s opinions of you.  Haters gonna hate regardless, your choice is to either stand up and shout from the mountain tops, or sit down like a “good boy” and be quite.

The tough guy and the macho man is an outdated system of belief.  These concepts of being strong and not feeling pain or not caring are all just masks.  The macho man has literally built a shell around him because he is so afraid of how powerful his emotions and true feeling might be.  The man who builds up the shell of his body with muscle and won’t show emotion tends to be the most scarred and disconnected of us all.  OK, I love muscles and getting stronger but there is an inherently flawed idea that the physically big and strong man is also mentally and emotionally strong.  You can trace this machismo culture back many thousands of years to the warriors and hunters who had a reason to be this way.  The 21st century man tends to live a sheltered life that is a far cry from these battlefields.

Vulnerability means living in the moment, it means being OK with any and all of your emotions.  Letting them flow through you so they do not get stuck and create tension.  What we resist tends to persist and the more we deny something that is true and real, the more it tends to affect the very fabric of our lives.  Our bodies become riddled with stress and the physical manifestation of emotional wounds when we deny our experiences in order to be ‘tough’ or ‘strong’.  We have all experienced this to a lesser degree when we are ‘stressed’ or late for a meeting and get knots in our shoulders or pain in our stomach. Over time these little stresses that are not acknowledged build up and can lead to debilitating disease. The refined man is vulnerable enough to embrace the flow of emotion so it can do what it wants to do – move through you and be experienced.  As you bring consciousness into your body, you begin to understand the energetic charge that is emotion, and in so doing, you allow it to flow through you. Emotion is just energy that wants to be In-Motion.  Let it flow.


Being vulnerable also gives a man the space to know what he wants and takes action.  He has defined barriers and structure, but they are not rigid and he is not confined by them.   He is connected to his body, his breath and the fullness of each experience.  He knows that true growth comes from living in the messiness that can be life.  To be a refined man means not having it all figured out, it means not knowing everything and being OK with it.  This means being open to all that life has to offer and to know that the only permanent thing in life is change.  To embrace flow while still being the architect of your fate.

Vulnerability is one facet to being a modern, refined man.  Essentially we must take risks if we are to have a life well lived.  Being vulnerable means taking risks with our hearts, bodies and our minds by exposing them to ourselves and to others.  We have to risk getting out of our comfort zone and unconscious habits in order to see the world a little differently.  We have to risk doing new things, meeting new people, getting out of routine and not knowing how it will all end up.



P.S. If your are interested in taking a small risk that has the transformative potential that comes from being a little vulnerable, then you are welcome to sign up for The Yoga Adventure retreat to Upstate New York, May 15th -17th.  You don’t have to have a yoga practice but you do have to be open to trying new things and getting out of your comfort zone.  We will be hiking, doing yoga, eating local vegetarian meals, dancing, laughing, meditating and having bonfires, all while getting off the grid for a long weekend.  For more information and to register click HERE.

Photos C/O Kat Harris

Beauty is…Celebrating Everyday

March 24, 2015

We’re so honored to have Lauren Sims join us this week for Beauty Is.  Lauren has a heart of gold.  She helps run the uber successful LoLo Mag in Dallas, Texas.  She loves God, her husband,  and of course fashion.  And this girl has some fabulous things to say!  We’re so grateful for you Lauren!


Kat + Em


The older I get, the more I realize this: Life moves so quickly.


Days are filled with laundry and errands and meetings and deadlines and before you know it, your head is on the pillow again at night.  Another day has flown by.  Lately, I have been learning the importance of savoring each day, each moment.  Of celebrating the everyday, and truly living in each moment with a joyful and grateful heart.

March 28th will mark my one-year wedding anniversary, and what a whirlwind this year has been!  Our first year of marriage has been filled with growing, adjusting, compromising, laughing, crying (for me…), adventuring, and so much more.  With all the beauty in our first year it still is easy for me to focus on the arguments, or what my husband didn’t do for me that day, or compare him with what other husbands are doing for their wives. But how much more joy is there in celebrating when he brings me flowers home, when he does the dishes, or when he plays with my hair while we watch a show.  As women, it is so tempting for us to pick apart and find the negative – not just in our husbands, but in ourselves too.  I am learning how much beauty there is in celebrating the little things. In savoring the nights where Michael and I make cookies ,and watch Netflix, or go to church together.  When my focus is on savoring these moments; It fills our marriage with so much more joy and sweetness, and in the end, love.

I recently started reading Shauna Niequist’s most recent book, Savor, and she sums up this concept of celebrating and savoring perfectly:

God is always speaking, always. He is always moving, always present, always creating, always healing. The trick, at least for me, is paying attention. The trick is savoring…I forget so easily that there’s a bigger picture. I’m easily seduced by the bustle of the day – lunch and laundry, deadlines and dinnertime. I forget that it’s all held together by a holy, loving God, and that we get to be his partners in restoration and healing. I forget that there’s more than I see, more than I can dream.

Life can feel so mundane when you get caught up in the day-to-day, or in your set backs and insecurities. I believe life is so much more beautiful when you accept each day as it comes, with a thankful heart:  thankful that you woke up this morning, for the smell of freshly brewed coffee, for the physical ability to go for a walk or run or whatever it is you do to stay active.

It is far too easy to have our minds going in 1 million directions while we’re on the treadmill, or in the grocery store, making mental to-do list as we hustle and bustle about our day. But let’s not miss out on the current task at hand. Let’s 100% live in and savor each moment so that we don’t miss all the beauty and life there is in these daily tasks or occurrences. When your mind is in a million places while you’re checking out at the grocery store, you might fail to realize that the cashier really just needed someone to smile at her and ask how her day was going. When you’re doing your daily jog around the neighborhood but already planning what’s for dinner that night, you might miss how perfectly blue the sky is that day and find the beauty of God in that.


So let’s stop, and pay attention. Let’s put an end to our focus on fear and insecurities, and instead soak up the goodness and beauty of life all around us.  May we walk through each day expecting, noticing, and celebrating glimpses and shimmers of the divine, right in the midst of our daily lives.


Lauren Sims, LoloMag

Photos C/O:  Lindsey Shea Photography


OUTFIT | The White Button-Up

March 19, 2015


So are you mad at me for not doing an outfit post since November?  #oops #sorry #winter

Thankfully Miss Emily has been holding up strong on the style front lately!  I mean I just wish she could dress me everyday…no but really.  Before I leave the house for meetings I always text her a picture of my outfit.  This usually results in her texting me back a ‘please don’t leave the house in that’.  I keed.  I keed.  But really Em has influenced my style a lot over the past few years, and has shown me the value of investing into quality pieces of my wardrobe.

More and more I’m getting rid of pieces in my closet I don’t need, and really just trying to keep it simple and classic (#shoutouttojcrew…I guess I’m really into hashtags today).  Anyone else too busy to keep up with the latest trends?

I love this outfit.  It’s so me.  Simple.  Classic.  Ladies don’t be scared to keep it easy.  Sometimes I put pressure on myself to come up with this creative + unique outfit.  But I always feel best in something like this. (or my yoga pants…but if I must ‘get dressed’ an outfit like this makes me happy).





JCrew.WhiteButtonUp.KatHarris-7    JCrew.WhiteButtonUp.KatHarris-4

Photos:  Tutti del Monte

Who Am I Without the Titles

March 17, 2015


Daughter.  Sister.  Friend.  Christian.  Single.  Woman.  Photographer.  Writer.  Speaker.  Blogger.  Entrepreneur.  Business Owner.  Virgin.  Yogi

This tells you what I am, but it doesn’t really tell you who I am.  There’s a big difference between a what and a who.  When I think of what it implies object, a thing.  ‘A what’ is one dimensional.

Apple:  red.

Square:  shape.

Katherine:  blogger.

When we meet people it’s so easy to ask ‘what do you do’.  It’s drilled into our culture.  Society screams at us from all angles You matter because of what you are.  Each time we ask it we affirm that what we do is who we are.  Which if that is that case, then we live in a flat and boring world.

Sunday afternoon I was with a group of women at Pepper Brunch and business coach Cyndie Spiegel, the guest speaker talked about living your dream career.  She had a lot of things to offer us.  But my mind narrowed on this one particular question, and I have not been able to shake it for the last few days.  She asked:

Who are you without the titles?

Yesterday after yoga I curled up on a comfy couch in a quiet corner the studio to journal about this question.  And it was a struggle.  I sat there chewing on the end of my pen and drumming my fingers on a blank page in my journal.  My mind felt blocked.  Instantaneously I could write down what I am.  That was easy to answer, but when it came down to ‘Who is Katherine titles aside’ I was stumped.

Not who is:

Photographer Katherine | Yogi Katherine | Blogger Katherine | Christian Katherine | ‘Who I think others want me to be’ Katherine.

Stripped of all my titles, of all the things that I do, who am I?

Naked and bare.  Who is Soul Katherine?

What is she about?  How does she tick.  What is she scared of?  What are her deepest dreams and desires?  It feels so vulnerable to even allow myself to dig into who that person is.  It feels near impossible then to share with you who I am.

I feel confident in sharing my one-dimensional self with you.  But to write who I am on the inside feels scary.  What if you don’t like her?  Do I like love her?  Do I accept her?  Without my whats am I enough?

After staring at a blank page for what seemed like an hour I timidly started writing a list of who I am.


I believe that I was created by God with purpose, intention, perfectly for a time such as this.  But a lot of times I don’t really live like I was created by the creator of all things.

I wonder how I would be living if I was living as though the above statement were true?

What if I gave myself permission to BE me.

To be the woman God created me to be unapologetically?

What if I allowed myself to be great?

Since I was created this way, why not start living this way?  (As I speak about myself I speak about you too!)

What if we got to know each other as who we are on the inside, not what we do on the outside?

What if we as women (and men) gave each other permission to be great?

Permission to be.

I think we would create a tidal wave of movement in our world.

We are more than a what.  Let’s start living that way.



This is Really About That

March 5, 2015



Graphic by Jenna Kutcher

For a Saturday in October it was unusually warm and sunny.  He asked me to come over and hang out.  He has a huge terrace, and we could sit outside.  There was nothing else that I wanted to do.  But I was shooting a NYC society wedding in Central Park that was going to take up at least the next 15 hours of my day.  We texted back and forth a throughout the day, but I was pretty distracted with shooting.

It was now Monday night, and I hadn’t heard from him since.

“It’s probably over,” I told my friend.

I was pouting on her bed as she was putting laundry away.

She gave me this look like you have got to be kidding me.

“What,” I said, “I haven’t heard from him since Saturday.  He’s probably just over it.”  Over this  [Over me is what I really meant.]

She asked me if I missed him.


Do you want to see him?


Then why don’t you call him?

Because I can’t.





That’s not an answer.

You’re not an answer.  (Yep you don’t have to tell me that’s a good comeback.  I already know).

I wanted him to want to hang out with me.  I wanted him to think of me, miss me, call me.  Didn’t he know that?  Couldn’t he jedi-mind trick me and read my thoughts?

Every time we’ve talked or gone out he has initiated it.

She pointed out though, “Don’t you think he wants you to call him every once in a while?”

But guys are supposed to call.  Make the move.  That’s how relationships are supposed to look aren’t they?  That’s how pursuit looks right?

And this is when it came about that (thank you Rob Bell for the analogy).  It wasn’t really even about him, or hearing from him; it was about something deeper.

It was about my attachment to how I thought it should look.  It was my attachment to feeling safe.

I felt safe in responding to him.  There was hardly any risk involved in that for me because at least I knew in those moments he wanted me.  He liked me, and my guarded heart only wanted him to know I felt the same way if I knew it would be reciprocated.

Me telling him I wanted to see him left me completely exposed.  It would open me up to rejection.

What if he didn’t want me?

What if I wanted him more than he wanted me?

What would that say about me?

I was terrified of putting myself out there, because I was terrified of getting hurt.

CS Lewis put it like this:

To love at all is to be vulnerable.  Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.  If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal.  Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements.  Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.  But in that basket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change.  It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable…to love is to be vulnerable.

Still lying on her bed my friend asked what did I really have to lose?

With little hesitation I responded:  Control.

Control had kept me safe from heartbreak for a long time, but in this moment I started to see that it had also ostracized me from love too.

If I chose to let go, and let another person see me and know me, then I opened myself to possibility.

The possibility of love, beauty, intimacy.

The possibility of heartache, disappointment, rejection.

And again I found myself in a space where it was about him, but it was not about him at all.

I saw those questions and instead of judging myself decided to have compassion for myself.  Underneath those questions was a deeper question:  Am I worth it? And if I believe that God is who He says he is and that he created me in His image, then no person can define my worth.  My worth comes from God.  So in essence I am free to expose my heart to another because their acceptance or rejection of me doesn’t change who I am and what I am worth.(A truth much easier to talk about than to actually walk out in life).

I’ve been so scared of  pain that I’ve shut myself off to feeling anything with a man.

Up until now.

This does not get to be my story anymore.  Now I get an opportunity to make a different choice.

Love is an invitation we receive each moment, every day to choose.  To serve another person, to put their needs first, to listen, to be open, to be patient, to respond instead of react, to speak life and hope and honesty and truth.  Love is to take a step towards another person when I don’t know what their response is going to be. In all of it the invitation is there, yet the choice is mine to make.

And it’s scary, and it’s risky, and it’s much safer to talk about doing than actually doing.  It’s easier for me to just say ‘oh for him it’s probably over’ as opposed for fighting for time with him or just simply putting myself out there to say I miss you.  I want to see you.

And yes I want to be pursued and fought for by a man.  Gosh I want that.  What woman doesn’t?

But love isn’t one sided.  It’s a journey you take hand in hand with another person.  Step by step together.  Each step forward is a step into the unknown. You don’t know how it’s going to work out or if it’s going to last.  The lie is that It’s just vulnerable for me.  Only I could get hurt.  No, we both can.

Love is worth it.  It has to be.

As my sweet and oh so patient friend shoved me out the door later that night she pointed her sassy finger in my face and told me to call him.

On my way home I made a decision to let my guard down with him.  To let go of what may or may not happen.  If I am rejected it will hurt, but it won’t ruin me.  We are quite resilient beings.  I decided I was going to join him on the journey.  Make steps towards towards him and towards the unknown too, and I was so scared.

I picked up my phone and we talked.  Timidly I said I missed him, and I wanted to see him, and asked can we see each other tomorrow.  He said of course, and he couldn’t wait to see me.

The next night we met at Union Square to go to drinks.

There were people blurring all around us, rushing to make the next L train, hailing cabs, carrying yoga mats and grocery bags, but I stood there and on the inside felt peaceful and sure.

Not sure of the outcome, or what would come of us, but sure that I was ready to let myself be seen and known.  Something I hadn’t done in years.

As he walked up and kissed me on the cheek it was almost physical.

I could feel my walls come down.

So it was about hearing from him, but it wasn’t even about that.

It was about me telling him I missed him, and yet it wasn’t so much about that.

And it was about grabbing drinks in-between meetings on a Tuesday night, but really it was about so much more.



Fashion Week for the Real World

February 27, 2015


When Kat and I first sat down to talk about turning The Refined Woman into it’s own thing, I remember wondering how it would work when Aaron and I decided to start a family. I worried that I would no longer have time to invest here, or that even worse, I wouldn’t be passionate about it any more.

The opposite happened. The passion to continue to work at this thing has only increased. Something about having a child really helps put your work into perspective – now that she’s in our world I only want to spend time doing what makes me come alive, what makes me happy, what pushes me further down the path of finding my true calling and gifting.

Fast forward to Fashion Week February 2015. After flying 6 hours solo with my 11 month old wild child, I can’t sleep. I’m exhausted to the bone but I’m filled with anxiety and excitement. My husband arrives after his red eye the next morning in New York, we high five at our Airbnb and Kat and I head out to the Kate Spade presentation. The next day I was able to attend the Mara Hoffman runway show as well. Getting there was brutal, I wish I had gone to more shows, but I was there. The entire battle was just showing up.

I have to find a way to celebrate that I made it there, that I didn’t let my tiredness or my fear of flying with my baby (which was pretty real) keep me from going and doing it.

I continually struggle with the desire to not just show up but to show up and want to kick butt. Sometimes, after you arrive at your destination, your baby gets a fever. It’s 10 degrees out. You can’t sleep two nights in a row. Your Uber lands at the wrong address then cancels on you completely. But dammit I SHOWED UP. And I even found a way to enjoy some chicken and waffles.

There will be years I’m able to go to more shows, and I’ll find a new appreciation for the years of struggle. I’m constantly striving to appreciate the reality of my here and now – the little moments in between to savor. I’m constantly weighing the benefits and rewards of everything I do as a mom now, I’m always judging the decisions I make in a new way, and it’s not always healthy. What I want to remember that even though this was a hard trip for me in a lot of ways, there were moments that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I want to remember that I showed up. That I fought for this dream. That I still have fight left in me. That I’m still here.

That’s what counts. I’m still showing up. Even when it’s hard.

And hey, I have photos to prove it.

Fist pump.




All photos by Kat Harris.



ps. some of the stuff I’m wearing you can find here. it feels weird to put this at the end of a real talk post but the sweater is on super sale so I feel like it’s pretty much my duty to still add it.