An Unexpected Invitation

January 18, 2015


Honestly I wasn’t sure what type of guy this was. I’m typically not the type of girl that would just kiss a guy in a bar on a Friday night.  I should rephrase this…in my entire almost 30 years of living I have kissed 2 guys at a bar…so it’s safe to say I basically never do something like this.

Granted he wasn’t a complete stranger. I’d known him for over a month through some friends, and we spent the better part of an entire night talking before we kissed, but still I’ve never been a huge dater and I  don’t really know how this whole dating thing works.

I’ve never “casually dated” in my life. Growing up in the South, I wasn’t allowed to “date” until I was 16, and even then it was few and far between.  I’m a tried and true girl that wants to be in a long term relationship. If I ever tried to date multiple guys at a time I think I’d cry, or make a total mess out of it and call someone the wrong name.

Are we dating?  Or did we just kiss?  Is this supposed to go somewhere, or do I just savor the experience for what it was?  Was it bad that we kissed?  Am I overthinking this?  Oh my gosh, I’m totally overthinking this.

You know what though, for some strange reason I just have this peace about the whole thing.  Like I know whatever happens it is going to be ok, like something inside me is saying trust.  I have this sense that I am going to learn something pretty spectacular through this whole experience.

In all of this, not just my late night Brooklyn man, I’m trying to navigate through what is a pure and holy interaction with a man?  What is me being influenced by a fairly conservative southern Bible Belt upbringing, and at the same time what is me being influenced by a very sexually liberal and quite promiscuous city?

Who is Katherine Harris, the 29 year old single virgin, in the bigger picture of all of this?  Not who should I be?  What does my upbringing say I should be?  Who does culture say I should be?  But who am I?  What do I believe?  How do I want to interact with men?

What is purity?  Does even matter?  Is it possible in 2015?

And where is God in all of this?  Is he shaking his head at me? Disappointed in me for kissing a man that I’m not dating?

How come I don’t feel guilty about any of it?

How come the whole experience felt so beautiful and connecting when it was so outside of what I would consider the Christian dating bubble to be?

It is like I had a taste of something that was very real. I had this strong connection with a great guy, and we both took steps towards the other person, and it was powerful.

And there it is.  The invitation.  What I love about God is how he constantly breaks through the box that I put him.  There is a constant invitation to journey through deeper waters; it’s like he was saying “Hey…I’ve got something for you in this…you up for it?”

Of course I expect to learn something when I’m at church, or when I’m praying, reading, or having a deep conversation with a friend.

What I don’t expect is to make out with a guy, and for God to bring up all these questions about myself that have actually nothing to do with the guy.

So whether or not I ever hear from Him again I’ve decided to appreciate our magical night kissing on the street corner, and keep it as just that.

With Him there was no confusion. No game. No false pretense.

He liked me.

I liked him.

He made movement toward me.

I responded to his movement.

It felt very natural and fluid.

It felt free.  I feel free. Is this how it should feel?

So evidently, I have quite a few questions, but I feel ok with that.  For some reason I feel free in my questions. Free to be completely me.  Free to hope.  I feel liberated, because it doesn’t matter if I ever hear from this guy again.  If I do, it’s great but.  if not, I’m grateful because in our small interactions I have already been given such an invitation to dig deeper into my own life and ask + doubt + learn, and for that I’m incredibly grateful.



P.S. Then I heard from him the next day, and he asked me out…

S T A Y  T U N E D …

the new basics

January 17, 2015

the new basics / the refined woman

the new basics // the refined woman

the new basics // the refined woman

the new basics // the refined woman

A New Day

January 15, 2015


It’s a New Day.

I am that person that gets excited about January 1st, new years resolutions, and new beginnings.  There’s something powerful to me, about a time of year where we reflect on:  what worked in the last 12 months, what didn’t work in the last 12 months, + what do I see for myself + for the world around me in the next year.

With the beginning of a New Year we have this permission to reevaluate.

Each year I pray about a word or phrase to take me into the next 12 months.

Last year my word was R O O T E D.

2013 : T R A N S I T I O N.

2015 is a New Day.

Last year I went through a Leadership Intensive Program for around 6 months.  Through it I learned how much of my life I truly lived out in fear: fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of getting hurt.  It was crippling my vision, my relationships, and my career, but I was so used to living with it that I hardly recognized it was there.  Fear was a constant companion.

Though I actively chase my dreams; it was as though I was running a race with a fractured ankle.  The race was still being run, but not to its full potential.  The only way to be healed is to create time and space to intentionally allow yourself to ‘get better’.

Although this felt like a major interruption into my life, the work, discipline, and intentionality it took for me to create this space and ask myself some really hard questions was infinitely worth it.

And now it is a New Day.

I’m ready.

For love.

To create ripples of lasting changed in our culture and throughout the world.

To really make strides in my career.

To invest deeply into my new church + community.

Without it sounded terribly cheesy, I didn’t realize how much I was weighed down by fear until I released myself from it.  I really feel like I can fly, unburdened and unashamed.

So yes this 2015 is going to be a year that is going to rock my world, and the world of those around me; it’s going to be a turning point year.  I am believing big things for this year.

This is just the beginning…







beauty is in the broken places

beauty is in the broken places // the refined woman (photo by elizabeth messina)

I’ve been thinking this morning about my voice. Not the speechbox or the breath in my lungs. But the story I own. The true things I know. And the platform I’ve been graciously given to share those things. On the bad days it’s easy to think “Who am I to share anything with anyone?” … I have very little answers and I will be the first to admit it.

But I have a story, and it is important. And in an age where the witty statuses are plentiful I think we owe it to each other to share this other stuff, the dark stuff. The messy stuff. That stuff brings depth and meaning to the good stuff. I’m starting to sound like that Tim McGraw song now so I had better move on to what I’m actually trying to say.

There is beauty in the broken places, because that’s how we find out we need to be mended, and that’s how we become strong and whole.

Today, I finally have an appointment to see a counselor for Postpartum Anxiety.

I’ve been struggling with this nameless faceless thing for 9 months now. I didn’t even know that’s what it was – Anxiety – until my friend had the courage to tell me to my face that she saw it lurking within me, and that I needed to find a way to call it out of that darkness and into the light.

I just thought I was being overly sensitive to my baby crying – isn’t every mom like that? What isn’t normal apparently is to becoming so completely unhinged that you cannot function at times, cannot sleep for fear she will cry again, cannot work unless she is perfectly at peace.

The most illusive thing is hope when you are dealing with anxiety. Hope that you will ever come out of the fog. But hope there is, and it’s ok if you need to admit that someone out there might be able to help you find it.

The holidays are a wonderful time, but they can be hard times when you are dealing with the kind of stuff that doesn’t fit into a happy status. These can be extra hard times when hard seasons of the soul collide with happy holiday seasons.

I’m not sure how to wrap this up nicely, and I think that might be the point after all. It’s ok to be in progress, it’s ok to be a little broken. Just know that there’s still beauty for you there. You have to look harder but it’s there. And please know that this holiday season there is hope for you. Reach out to someone close to you and ask for help for where to see it. It’s there, I promise. Hold onto it. These seasons will pass for us both, friends.



cashmere camel and tulle

January 14, 2015

cashmere camel and tulle // the refined woman

cashmere camel and tulle // the refined woman

cashmere camel and tulle // the refined woman

OUTFIT | Strips, Skinnies + Tieks

January 5, 2015


I got to show my baby girl my hometown this Christmas, and we started with my favorite coffee shop (she wasn’t that impressed with the suit of armor and the worn-in couches) and a sunset at the beach.

Stripes, skinnies + Tieks were the perfect comfy combo. I love this top from Hatch Collection – I still love wearing it even though I’m not pregnant anymore! – and these new favorite skinnies are from AYR. These cranberry colored Tieks added a nice subtle pop of color and bonus they are super comfortable! Which when carrying around a baby is super necessary!










** This post is in partnership with Stylelist + Tieks. All opinions are our own. Thanks for supporting posts that keep The Refined Woman’s doors open.

Sometimes You Just Gotta Leave Town…

January 1, 2015


In ways that I have never had to fight for stillness in my life, I have to fight for it in New York City.

New York is one of the most magical places I have ever experienced.  If you are dreamer and a doer, a mover and a shaker; it is the place for you to make your dreams a reality.  Because the pace of life is so fast, there are times where I feel like if I’m not careful I will blink and 10 years will have flown past me.

So much of the time I love this about the city.  The opportunity.  The type of people that the city lures.  The passionate world changing movers and shakers.  The creative energy is magnetic.


There’s a but, and it’s an important one.

I believe stillness to be a powerful practice in life, and I’m the type of person that needs nature in my life to not only function but thrive.  Stillness in the city is never an accident; like anything we truly value in our lives it must be ardently fought for.

So this means that sometimes on a random Friday I ditch work with my friends and drive upstate, even if it means we’re in the car for longer than we’re outside.  We go anyways, because our souls need it.  We hop in a rental car, or a borrowed car, and we put on music and you we road trip snacks, and we get out of town for that hour or two or three of social media free/subway free/stree free nature.

I’m grateful that I have friends that value stillness, and nature, and road trip playlists, and Cheetohs, and rolling around in the grass, and running through fields on a freezing cold Friday afternoon.

They’re my lifelines.













Photos by:  Tutti de Monte Photography + Kat Harris


The Epic Kiss

December 19, 2014

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset It’s funny how a day can start off going one direction, and completely out of nowhere things change.  I love that about life…about God really.  It’s always an unexpected epic adventure.

As Alexander says; it was a terrible, no good, very bad day.

My day seemed to be going downhill by the hour.  It started with a guy canceling our coffee date for the third time this week.  I feel like this is worth repeating…a grown man that asked me out canceled on me three times in one week.  I felt hurt, rejected, and a little annoyed at myself for allowing it to happen so many times.

I run to a quick yoga class, don’t have time to shower, forget my make-up, and literally run (yoga mat in tow) to my back to back shoots in the city.

After a 10 hour day I just want to head home, grab a bottle of red wine, and watch a good ol’ rom com (#whyamistillsingle) when I remember my friend invited a few friends over for dinner.

Exhausted, with my camera gear and yoga mat, I head to Brooklyn for dinner at my friend’s place.  I figure it was no problem that I look quite disheveled as I was sure it would be only girls.

As my friend swung open the door, the aroma of homeade food filled all my senses, and as I dumped my belongings on the floor, plopped on the couch and was instantly handed a glass of red wine.  (This may be a good night after all).

No sooner did I sit down, when there was a knock on the door, and it was my friend’s darling friend from college.

He and I met at yoga the month before, and ran into each other at class each week.  Did I mention that he is very cute…Le’sigh.

Hi, he says.

Hey, I say.

Immediately I become very aware of my completely unkempt state.  My friend also seems to notice and whisks me to her room, puts me in a cute cream chiffon blouse, gives me mascara, blush, red lips, and a little perfume, and viola!  I am a new woman.

Walking back into the room he and I made eye contact.

He smiles.

I smile (It’s a very She’s All That moment except I don’t tumble down the stairs).

Throughout the night more people came over, we eat an amazing home cooked meal, and somehow our wine glasses are never empty.  Another thing happens as the evening progresses.  As I float around the room talking with different friends, somehow he and I kept finding ourselves in a corner talking; it doesn’t take me long to find out he’s not only really cute, he’s a really genuine and kind guy.

It’s getting late so naturally a few us decide to go dancing (because why not…it’s Friday night and it’s only midnight #yolo #midnightisthenew10pm people).

We say our goodbyes, and it is only then that I notice there are only three of us going out.  My roomate, him, and myself.

We’re on our way to the bar, and in less than two minutes his hand slips into mine, and it kinda feels like it is just as it should be.  Like all along we are supposed to be in this exact moment walking through Brooklyn at midnight on a crisp fall night hand in hand.

Remember though, my roomate is with us too and watches the whole thing happen.

He looks at his phone for directions, and she mouths at me with eyes as big as golf balls “SHOULD I LEAVE??”

I shake my head with eyes equally as big flailing, “NOOO!!!”.

Now might be an opportune time to tell you that it has been two (yes two) years since a man has held my hand, and yes it is also safe to assume that it has also been two years since I have been kissed. (I’m pretty conservative with my kisses.  Working on my P31 folks, but more on that later).

We get to the bar, which I’m convinced isn’t bigger than my 10×10 Brooklyn bedroom; it is wall to wall with people, and the DJ is playing what my roomate likes to refer to as “Island Jams”.  You would have thought we walked straight into a dive bar in Jamaica.

I didn’t hate it though, because I’m with a really cute guy that I’ve spent the better part of the last 6 hours connecting with, and he is holding my hand, and has led me into an Island Jam bar with tropical drinks*.

He and I stand next to the bar and chat.  Full disclosure:  at this point I have all but abandoned my poor roomate who officially deserves a ‘Wingman of the Year’ trophy.  (Although I’m not a complete monster, because I made sure she was having fun, and as I looked over to her she was literally surrounded by 3 different guys wanting to buy her a drink and teach her how to dance to steel drum beats).

I turn back to look at him, and he pulls me in close, and gives me a little kiss.  I pull back with my head spinning, and we smile and keep talking.

The rest of the night is a bit of a blur.  We danced to what can only be described as some sort of Jamaican national anthem complete with steel drums until the wee hours of the morning.

We step outside for some fresh air, and then the next thing I know we’re standing on a street corner in Williamsburg and he’s kissing me.  He kisses me like he means it, and it is completely magical.

At some point…some good bye kisses later…I float home.

That’s all for now.



*note:  I actually don’t like island drinks…I’m more of a wine and whiskey girl myself, but for the stories sake; it sounds good.

Real Sex in the City | Confessions of a 29 yr Old Virgin in NYC

December 4, 2014


Real Sex in the City | Confessions of a 29 year old Single-Virgin living in NYC.

Yes…You did read that right.  You can go ahead and read it again…I know; it’s shocking.

My name is Katherine, and I am a 29 year old single virgin (by choice) chasing my dreams here in New York City.

When I was 17 years old I made a commitment to myself, to my future husband, to God that I would wait until marriage.  I believe sex to be one of the most holy acts we as humans can experience; it’s sacred, physical, spiritual, and everything in between.

Now I find myself at almost 30 years old, living in New York City, single, a Jesus follower, and a virgin.  It was one thing to make this declaration as a high school senior, and has been another thing altogether to walk it out.  Friends…it is not easy, and anyone who tells you so is a liar!

Here’s a little background to my story…

I’m from Texas, and assumed like most southern girls that I’d be married by the time I was 20.

A mere 10 years ago when I was a college sophomore in Dallas Texas, I remember saying to my best friend at the time (who has now been married for almost a decade, has a house and two kids) “I know I already know him (my husband). We’re probably already friends, and don’t even know it”.

Man…what a statement.  As a 19 year old I was convinced I was going to marry one of the guys in my group of friends from High School; it was very Friday Night Lights of me.

My plan was that I’d go through college, meet my husband, be swept off my feet, get married after we both graduated, travel, and eventually settle down somewhere in the south near our families to have kids.  The perfect little life in the perfect little box that I had created for it.

Now there’s nothing wrong with wanting those things; it’s just that my life has turned out completely different.

Without going into my entire history here are the cliff notes:

I graduated college oh-so-single  (No MRS degree here folks), and moved to California two weeks later to work for a non profit. I traveled all over the US doing advocacy living out of a van completely broke, and created some of the best memories of my life. From there I went to Africa, backpacked through Europe, worked at a other non profit, started my photography business, and eventually my fashion and lifestyle blog which all have led me all over Cali, the east coast, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Caribbean, and more, and ultimately all the way here to New York City to chase some pretty epic dreams.

If I had gotten things the way I planned, I would have a good life.  It’s just that God always has a more imaginative, creative, journey for our lives.  Never did I ever think I’d be a photographer and blogger in New York City, and never did I ever think I’d be almost 30 and single, yet here I am.

Back to dating.

I have never been much of a dater, and because of being hurt in the past I really had shied away from it for most of my life.

Until moving to NYC….In the last year I have dated more than I dated in the last 3 years combined.  At this point, I have tried almost every form of online dating, not out of desperation, but for the purse sense of trying it out and being open to possibility.

Over the last year I have had some of the worst dating experiences of my life, coupled with some of the most beautiful moments, and dates that have felt completely magical.  I’ve embarrassed myself, been stood up, almost stood someone up (but just didn’t have the guts to do it), and at the end of the day have had some hot tears alongside lots and lots of laughs.

So many of my friends back home think I live this sexy life here, and yes there are definitely fabulous moments; it’s New York City for crying out loud!  But life is hard, dating is hard, and this is a space where I’m going to divulge my fancy and more-or-less not so fancy dating life here in The Big Apple.

Precursor:  I am a works in progress.  I don’t have it all figured out.  I make strides, and I also make big fat messes of things.  By no means do I have it altogether.

I’m just a girl trying to be honest about real life…or my real life dating here in the city, and if you stick around I can assure you that I have some pretty stellar stories.

Here’s to believing that the journey is actually the destination, and to hoping that the best is yet to come…and oh ya also that one day I will meet an amazing man to partner through life with!  (I’m praying those big prayers y’all).