The Refined Man Agrees to Disagree

May 26, 2015


We’re excited to have Johan back for another round of The Refined Man.  Homeboy is passionate + you can feel his conviction in his words.  We’d love to hear what you think about agreeing to disagree…


Kat + Em


Obama is a socialist.

Racism doesn’t exist anymore.

Jesus is God.

I’ve heard these phrases dropped at family gatherings or while hanging out with friends. If you’re at the dinner table, everyone takes a sharp breath of air, suddenly so much more interested in the plate set before them. “Why don’t we change the subject?”


Most people don’t know how to disagree. If you meet someone with a different point of view  it can get personal very quickly. He’s a Democrat, she’s a Republican and they’re at each other’s throats about their stances on immigration. She’s an atheist, she’s a Muslim, they blame one another for the problems in the world.

What would it look like to disagree with style? Why do we allow differing opinions to move us apart instead of closer together? If you travel to another country do you you get agitated because they don’t view time the same way you do? Or that they may care about the community over the individual? A smart tourist doesn’t try to impose their world view on the on the people and places they visit.


“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” -Mark Twain

Life can’t be experienced without disagreement. We look at the world differently, we’re shaped by the neighborhood we grew up in, the faith (or lack there of) of our parents, the people that broke our hearts. It all plays a part in what we value.

If life can’t be experienced without disagreement, how have you chosen to respond? Do you nod your head in agreement when someone says something you think is absurd?

To me, being agreeable is cowardice, and just as insulting as calling someone ignorant for having an opposing view. Do you walk away? Start a fight? Condescend? Patronize? What’s your weapon of choice?

When someone doesn’t believe what I believe it’s an opportunity for me to ask questions, be challenged, serve, and grow.


I believe in God and I have friends that think the notion of a Creator is foolish. One of my good friends is a college professor, an atheist, and anarchist. That doesn’t deter me from calling him one of my best friends.


I remember a conversation we had about our prison systems. He believes America needs a complete overhaul in that arena.  I partially agreed with him, and from there the conversation progressed to the problem of evil. It was at that point that we disagreed. He believes all forms of evil are a result of societal conditioning, while I believe evil is the result of our separation from God. We tossed our views around for a while, then went to dinner and talked some more. Told some jokes in the midst of our exchange and walked away, not as enemies but as stronger friends who understood and respected each other more.

My friendships with people who don’t share my beliefs have broadened my perspective on life, helped me see the world differently, and challenged the ways I live.

What if we chose to see an opposing view as an invitation to a new world? Disagreement is an invitation to see, hear, and feel something new. It’s a ticket to explore new lands. Is your passport ready?


Johan Khalilian

Photo c/o me:  Kat Harris

These are the Days…

May 21, 2015


(See the full article on Darling Magazine)

I have an interesting relationship with social media.  When I’m in a good place and feeling connected to myself, God, and loved ones, social media is a part of my life.  But it  doesn’t play a leading role.  I could do without it, and be fine.

However, when I’ve lost connection to the things and people that matter the most,  I find that I become like an addict  searching for my next hit.  I start looking and hoping for someone or something, or that magic number of “likes” to tell me I’m important, loved, or worthy.  Sometimes I’m not aware that I’ve lost touch until a few days pass and I realize something inside feels off.

Here’s out it can play out:

My alarm rings loudly on my phone, and abruptly wakes me up.

I check Instagram and my email before begrudgingly getting out of bed and dragging my feet to the coffee pot.

I sit down with my journal, a devotional book, and my double espresso to start my day.

By 9:00 a.m. I’m at my desk, responding to emails, making a to-do list for the day, and intermittently going on social media. 

When I’m walking, waiting for the subway,  or even talking with a friend, I’ll find my eyes on my social media feed.

The day goes on, until I find myself exhausted, lights out, setting my alarm for the next morning.  The last thing I do before drifting off to sleep is check my Instagram and email one last time.  

And then I wake up the  next day, and start the whole thing all over again.

It’s embarrassing for me to share that all too often this can be a reality in my life.

What I’ve been noticing is how distracted I am, and how much I have allowed social media to take over my existence.  What am I looking for when I check the feed for the tenth time in one day?  What void am I hoping to be fulfilled?  What magic do I think will happen?

There may be a lot of answers to those questions, but mostly I’m longing to be grounded in joy, clinging to the bright things in life—those childlike moments where our souls feel most alive.

Recently I traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina with my best friend and two of my sisters.  It was an opportunity for just that:  reconnection to the things that matter most in life.


Before we left I felt a nudge inside to not be on social media while I was away.  To some that may seem easy.  But it had been almost a year since I took any significant time away from the internet.

Exhausted after a week of back-to-back shoots,  editing, and client meetings, Sara and I boarded our red-eye flight to Buenos Aires, and I made the decision to not only stay away from social media, but also texting and all emails.  The challenge I gave myself was to be completely present, and live fully in each moment.  Like Ernest Hemingway wrote, I wanted to “learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep.  Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might.”


We arrived at sunrise and took a cab to my aunt’s  house in the city.  After sleeping a few hours we biked all over town, stopping occasionally to hear stories of my aunt’s childhood, sit at a cafe for fresh juice, and soak up the magic of golden hour at sunset.  There was no rush, there was no hurry.  There was no place to be except in the moment that was at hand.

My sisters met us a few days into the trip, and we welcomed them with hugs, cheese, bread, and vino blanco.


Our days were filled with long breakfasts of espresso, croissants and dulce de leche on our patio or at a corner cafe.  We walked and biked most places, did yoga in the park, and  sprawled in the sun with books in hand.  Strolling with arms linked through markets and cobblestone alleys, we talked and laughed so hard the tears streamed down our cheeks.   We danced in the street to a local folk band, and bought souvenirs for our loved ones.  We went to dinner at 11:30 p.m., and drank good red wine, and ate meals so rich that even weeks later I can still remember the smells, the spices, the textures.


There were nights when the four of us would lay in our beds and talk until the wee hours of the morning.  About our fears, the things in life that we want and hope for, yet rarely take the time to share with others. Tears came naturally.  Almost as naturally as the laughter.  It felt like we were little girls at one big sleepover.  It was carefree, it was light, there was depth, and without the distraction of our phones and social media we were unabashedly free.


One evening after a long day of exploration we took a boat taxi home   Our cheeks were sunburned,  and we were all dozing in and out of sleep, chatting or  just silently just being.  And I had this moment of stillness where I realized, these are the days.  Life is magical, and it’s happening all around us if we put our phones down and pay attention.  Our trip was everything I could hope for because of the people I was with and the moments we shared, and our active decisions to remain present with ourselves and each other.


I thought it would be hard to be away from technology.  But what I found is when I am truly present it’s the most natural experience.  We are created to live fully in each moment, and much to my surprise, when I actually live in the moment it comes as natural as my next breath.  Seven days passed by, and not once did I miss social media, texts or emails.

My soul felt rested and connected.  I felt alive.

Going back to the city and to demanding jobs, social lives, and to-do lists I wonder if we can hold onto pieces of that presence throughout our day-to-day lives.  There is work to be done, bills to pay, and social media sometimes plays an active part in our careers and lives.  But what if, in the midst of all of that we created space to be present.  To put our phones on silent and for a few hours have a long dinner.

Instead of looking for a moment to recreate for a stranger online, I wonder what would happen to our relationships with our families, loved ones, and the world as a whole  if we  made the active decision to value the moment at hand? My guess is that we would have lives filled with compelling stories and relationships, and the idea to be present would feel just as natural as our next breath.




Photos c/o Tutti del Monte

beast mode |my birth story part 3

May 19, 2015

Well folks we’ve made it to Part 3 and I’m sure by now you’re either dying to know how this thing turned out or you’ve already forgotten I even started this series. But dividing it up like this has helped me not gloss over all the little moments – the sweet ones and the funny ones – that make up the larger story. I’m so grateful to get to share my story here because truthfully I think there aren’t enough positive birth stories out there in the world.

We are so quick to share our horror stories. But I believe giving birth is one of the most empowering and holy and beautiful things I have ever done. And not because it all went according to my plans. I just look back and I’m in awe of what God allowed my body to accomplish.

But not to get ahead of myself. Last time we met it was game time.

Now, Beast Mode.

I tried pushing in all sorts of positions. But I just couldn’t do anything but squat and push that way. Everything else just put too much pressure on my lower back. There was a bar that I could hold onto while I did it. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried on one of those hospital gowns but it seems like if you were squatting and attempting to push out a baby it just wouldn’t stay on the way it should. I don’t think that’s why I refused to wear it but now looking back that seems like a good explanation.

The real reason is that I just couldn’t care less. Nurses were in and out. My doula was playing Bon Iver on her iphone. I would forget about it until “Skinny Love” would cycle in and I would make out those same lyrics I loved so deeply.

“I told you to be patient. I told you to be kind. I told you to be balanced. I told you to be fine.”

The best way to describe those few hours was that I was on another level. I was singularly focused on pushing that babe out.

But it wasn’t working very well.

After three hours, it didn’t look like she wanted to come out that way after all.

My doctor attempted to turn her as she was posterior, and that makes it difficult for them to squeeze on out of there.  He secured a vacuum to the tip of her head and I had to try not to push for a few counts, then push REALLY hard while they tried to give her a little tug with the vacuum.

It is as brutal as it sounds since all of that is happening in your hoo ha. Except that I wasn’t unhappy about it at all. I never once even wished I had gotten the epidural. It never felt like too much. I just kept telling myself – I can do this. My body is meant to do this. She’s coming soon. I’m going to meet her soon. Every time I pushed I thought, this was it. She’s coming this time. Ok this time. Now. Now. Now.


She didn’t. Just as stubborn in birth as she seems to be in almost toddler-hood.

Finally, we had exhausted all our options and I was getting weak. My doctor told me that C-Section was our only option left.

Now, let’s back the train up here.

My worst WORST nightmare, and I had a lot of birth nightmares beforehand, would be to go through all that labor pain and then end up in a C-Section. I thought that would be the worst possible scenario. It’s like the worst of both worlds right?


All I felt was peace. Overwhelming, total, inexplicable, God-given peace. It was totally supernatural. I know this because it doesn’t even make sense to me now. I am terrified of surgery. Of needles. Of all that.

But I knew that we had done all we could in that moment. I knew that I had labored exactly the way I wanted and the way I was supposed to. And I knew that I would get to meet my baby girl soon. All I wanted at that point was to see her face. I was ready.

The worst part was having to stop pushing and hold still for the spinal tap to numb me. My doctor had to brace me, because after three hours of pushing your body does not want to stop and hold still for a large needle. But you must.

I remember all the nurses in the operating room smiling at me. The anesthesiologist kept reminding me that I would get to meet my baby soon! Everyone was so encouraging. I don’t know if they knew how hard I had been pushing or for how long, but it felt like they did. It felt like they knew me.

And all of a sudden I heard her crying. It was the most miraculous thing. To hear her voice! And then they put her close to my chest and there she was! A dark head full of hair. I remember thinking she looked so weird. It was a shock to see her. But the most incredible one of my life. I wanted to stare at her forever.

They had to stitch me up and then I was wheeled into a recovery room. Aaron came in to tell me that they would be able to bring her to me before they bathed her and I felt such an overwhelming relief at that.

They brought her in and she latched on immediately. And in that moment my heart was fuller than I knew was possible. I would do it all over a thousand times for her. It was worth it. She was worth it.

my birth story part 3 // the refined woman

I love her, and that’s the beginning and the end of everything.

photo by meg perotti


thanks for being a part of the journey.



Giving Myself Permission

May 12, 2015


Photo c/o Tutti del Monte

For five years, I worked a Monday through Friday 9-6 with a lunch break.  Growing up an athlete where I lived, breathed and ate on the tennis court, and later coached this was complete torture.  To be in an office by myself for 40 hours a week was a test of my will.  But I knew in order to get to where I wanted to be not only was it necessary; it was actually a blessing.

The first thing I did when I got into the office each day was turn on the computer, printers, and scanners, check the calendar to see if there were any meetings or events that day.  Then I would take out my yellow pad of paper with blue lines on it and write my daily to-do list.  During busy season I would easily fill out two full pages of things to-do and then add-on throughout the day.  But during our winter slow season it was a different story.

I remember it being early January one year, and we were slow(wwwww).  I came into the office Monday morning, turned everything on, checked the calendar to see no appointments for that day, week, and even the next few weeks.  Then I grabbed my pad of paper and pen and just sat there for  a few minutes drumming my pen on the edge of my pad of paper racking my brain:  What in the world am I going to do (not just today), but for this whole month!  What is the point for me being here this week.  It’s all pointless busy work at this point.

I was fine packing my stuff up and calling a spaid a spaid and saying ‘hey boss see you next month, I’m going to the beach’.  But I knew that wouldn’t sit well with him.  After staring blankly for what seemed like an hour I finally came up with two things for me to do that month day:

  • Organize my email into folders with labels and tabs.
  • Clean and organize the supply closet.

You can imagine how inspired I was.  How in the hell was I going to make that into a whole 8 hour work day, let alone what was I going to do for the next 4 weeks?  Surely I was going to die from boredom or the fumes of all-purpose cleaner as I cleaned the closet for the 29th time.  But alas I did not.  I made it through.  I found things to do, and I did not die of boredom.

What I remember about that day, and days like it was this though:

When I run my own business I want to work hard and efficiently.  None of this 60 hour work week business.  And on days that were slow I wanted to give myself permission to enjoy those moments.  Pack up and go to the beach on a Monday for a few hours.  Go to a midday workout class.  Have a long lunch.  Because inevitably there will be a time a few months down the road when we’re drowning in work and 12 hours days seem as normal as breathing and I’ll have wished I took some time off in the dull days of winter or spring.  The calm before the storm.


Now three years into my running my own business now I’ve learned a thing or two.  For starters:  I’m a harder boss on myself than any other person I have ever worked for. I can just be straight mean to my employee (me).  Instead of letting her go out with friends I boss her around, and make her work through the night just to hit a self-imposed deadline.  Anyone with me?

I’ve also learned that when it’s your own the amount of ownership you feel over every aspect of your business is infinitely more than when you are working for someone else.  I’m always thinking of things to do, portfolios to update, hard drives to triple back up, meetings to set up, articles to write, people to reach out to.  It’s been three years, and I still am looking for that ‘off’ switch that seemed so readily available to me when I worked for someone else.

Giving myself permission as a business owner to enjoy the perks of running my own business is a hard thing to do.  It’s an actual muscle that needs to be strengthened, and is actually a good thing to have in your ‘arsenal’.   I try to remind myself of what I wanted when I started my own business.  What type of lifestyle I was looking for.   And enjoying beautiful middays in the park, and taking trips and working really hard in between was what I wanted.

This week giving myself permission looked like taking a few hours off to ride bikes with my best friend in Brooklyn.  After I got over the initial ‘guilt’ of not working I enjoyed myself so much, and was able to get back to the office and work really hard later that day.


If you’re a business owner or freelancer like me, how can you give yourself permission to enjoy your lifestyle more?  Maybe it’s just taking a 15 minute break, and walking to get an iced tea or maybe it’s finding an airbnb in Paris for an off-month to work and live remotely.  Or maybe you struggle with balance or giving yourself permission.

Whatever it is, I’d love to hear it.



[GIVEAWAY] Purpose Dresses

May 5, 2015

*This giveaway is now closed! Congrats Lexi on winning! And thank you to everyone who commented and entered!*

Today we are excited to feature Purpose Boutique!

purpose dresses / the refined woman

We truly believe that how you shop matters to the world. Supporting companies that are good for the environment, ethical, and promote justice seems like the least we can do.

Em’s wearing the Navy Christine dress from the Purpose Dress line and today we are hosting a giveaway for one Purpose dress and one accessory!

These dresses are not only comfy – they are cute, versatile and an awesome wardrobe staple for any closet. And the most beautiful thing about this line is that these dresses are made by survivors of injustice in Austin, Texas – giving them hope and dignity as artisans is a pretty rad mission.


Leave a comment below and tell us a fun fact about yourself and you’ll be entered to win!

If you share this blog post on facebook/twitter/instagram please tag us @therefinedwoman and @purposeboutique and leave a comment with a link to that post for extra entries!

Winner will be chosen at random on Thursday 5/8 and notified via email. Open to US Residents only.

purpose dresses / the refined woman

purpose dresses / the refined woman

purpose dresses / the refined woman

purpose dresses / the refined woman





This post is in collaboration with Purpose Dresses. Thanks for supporting posts that keep The Refined Woman’s doors open. 


The Refined Man is ALTRUISTIC

April 30, 2015


A few years ago one of my best friends Erica + I made the drive up to LA from Newport Beach on a hot summer afternoon to take a Beyonce dance class.  We showed up, didn’t know anyone, and placed ourselves strategically in the back row.  Since we were in LA I’m pretty sure we were one of the only non-professional dancers there.  Even though we could hardly keep up with the choreography, after class we were sweaty and ready for round two.  Crespatrick was the dance instructor, and came up after class and introduced himself to us (but I’ll be honest…he really introduced himself to Erica:).  At that time none of us had any idea that a few short years later Erica + Crespatrick would be planning their wedding!  Moral of the story:  GO TO YOUR LOCAL BEYONCE DANCE CLASS TO FIND YOUR HUSBAND. #duh.

But really I could not be more excited for these two + their journey together.  Crespatrick is an incredibly talented dancer (among many other things) + is a man of honor and integrity.  He truly is a Refined Man + I’m so excited for you to get to know him!




To live an altruistic life is to live a selfless, outward focused + generous life.
This word has only been part of my vocabulary for a few years now, but its meaning has been something I have been taught my whole life.
“Be kind.”
“Treat others how you want to be treated.”
“Put others before yourself.”
These are all things I was told by my parents, mentors, peers and everyone else in between. I always knew to have a good sense for other people, but it wasn’t until I became others minded that the way I lived out my life completely shifted.
I came to LA 8 1/2 years ago chasing my dreams in dance, and then chasing a dream in styling, then designing and blogging and then at times all of those at once. Through the ups and downs of trying to choose a lane and stay in it I’ve sought to please one person and one person only:   Me.   I realized I lived this way out of a broken place that was led by selfishness. I would write out goals and plans for my satisfaction, but I never thought once how could these goals help benefit others:  the ones I love, even help benefit the masses. 
God echoed in my soul reminding me to be a servant of all. It didn’t matter what I was doing but more who was I doing it for. A man takes his passions and thrusts them forward with altruistic guidelines. He doesn’t think “I” but “You.” He doesn’t say every man for himself but me for every man.
We aren’t meant to just do Altruistic acts but to live an Altruistic life.   Just like this word is an adjective it should describe a mans essence, not just random acts.  When we live to love then you will love to live. 
Crespatrick de los Reyes


Photos C/O Lindsey Shea Photography


game time | my birth story part 2

birth story part 2 / the refined woman


Before I even got pregnant I knew that I wanted to hire a doula to help with my birth. I appreciate hospitals and what they provide and I trusted my doctor and his methods… but I wanted to have a go-between for me and Aaron and the hospital staff in case things got tense at any point. I also wanted to have someone to assist me in laboring at home as long as possible, so that I could avoid unnecessary interventions and deliver naturally – although lots of well-meaning older women told me I wouldn’t be “getting any prize” for not using the drugs. I just wanted to avoid the epidural potentially slowing labor down for me, and I’ll be honest that big needle freaked me the heck out.

In any case, we made it to game time a bit faster than I anticipated.


(If you missed Part 1 of the story you can stop for a moment and READ IT HERE. I’ll wait….)


So Aaron arrived home from work that evening and I began to labor. My doula had dropped by quickly around 6ish to give me a cool doohickey (I actually didn’t know you could just buy this on Amazon until I wrote this post so – you’re welcome!) that sends some electronic waves to manage the contraction pains. Nifty! I was doing pretty good for a while, just me and that yoga ball. Breathing. All that jazz.

The last few weeks before I went into labor I went into full-on nesting madness and redid three out of three bedrooms in our house. YUP. You heard that right. Every room. We had a large dresser that some friends of ours were picking up to get out of our bedroom and while I was breathing and bouncing on that yoga ball in full-on labor.  So I was trying to convince Aaron to tell our friend to come pick up the dresser. I was convinced I’d be doing this thing for a while and they had time. I was also encouraging Aaron to eat something! He was also finishing up sending our tax paperwork to our tax guy. Talk about multi-tasking! We were crushing it.

But it got pretty crazy pretty quickly. I didn’t know this at the time (cause how would I know any different) but I was mainly having what’s called Back Labor. That means my little darling babe was turned so that her head was pressing into my tailbone. And that meant it #1 – it hurt like a mofo and #2 I could really only labor sitting up/squatting/etc. There was no laying down for me. And these visions I had of laboring in a warm bathtub or shower didn’t end up working out so well. So eventually I call Lucia (my doula! she’s great!) to tell her things are getting good and to come over at her earliest convenience.

I swear she was only at our house for 10 minutes (my sense of time is probably skewed so who knows) before I started to feel like I’m leaking a little. She helps me over to the toilet (I think she was using a doula secret here) and BAM! my water breaks. Just like that…It’s really not like in the movie where that’s the first thing to go! It can happen at any time! You might know all this stuff but I didn’t before I got pregnant. Maybe it’s better that way. Save a little mystery. There’s not much left in life once you’re an adult.

After my water breaks – at this point I think my contractions are probably about 3-4 minutes apart- Lucia tells us we should head to the hospital and honestly my head was a little fuzzy. It’s around 8:40pm. We don’t have a hospital bag packed (That was on my to-do list for earlier that day! I swear.) Aaron did manage to send our tax docs in.  But I’m not sure how much of his dinner he managed to eat.

We roll up to the hospital and they pull out a wheelchair. As they are wheeling me in I don’t even look up at the nurse’s station but I say something like “I’m having a baby tonight!” and I tell them my doctor’s name. He pops up behind one of the nurses like “Hey! How’s it going?” So as they are getting us settled into our room I want to get in the shower since things are feeling pretty real and as soon as the water hits my back I feel like whoa. Something’s different.

I turn to Lucia and Aaron and I’m like – “I think I need to push” – and my tone is probably implying “Is that possible?”

I’m still under the impression I was gonna be at this whole labor part a bit longer but since my doc happens to be there they get him in and he’s like – “do you want me to check you?”

Sure! Like why not? I’m not doing anything else tonight.

He looks down there and I don’t know the specifics really but he’s like:

“YEP. You can start pushing now!” He’s practically gleeful delivering that news to me.


Great. It’s Game time folks.


To Be Continued….


Part 3 : BEAST MODE. Coming soon to The Refined Woman.

photo by elizabeth messina

Accessory Fix

April 28, 2015

Today Kat + I are styling some new sandals from JCrew! aka The Mothership.

gold fringe sandals and white outfit

Something about gold and white together just feels right! I love this drapey white skirt, it’s a little sporty and super comfy.

gold fringe sandals


fringe sandals


It’s been a lllllong winter here on the East Coast, and I am so ready for spring dresses, sandals, and anything but my puffer jacket.  I like simple, easy, comfy, and when I find something that is all three of those things and chic?  Well, I’m sold.  (I’m pretty sure I’m going to live in these Metallic-trimmed sandals this summer).

It may still be chilly here in New York City, but I’m bringing out sandals + sundress in hopes that the weather will soon follow suit!




Photos c/o Tutti del Monte Photography

The Sun Will Rise Again

April 23, 2015


The last thing I want to do is write this post.  (Anything but this post).

The post where I tell you it ended, and it hurt.  The post where I tell you I blew it.  He blew it.  We both made a giant mess of things.

I want to tell you about all the good moments that I had with him.  How I felt more swept up with him in the short time we were together than any man I’ve been with in years.  I want to share how he cared for me, made me laugh, treated me like a woman, and reminded me what it feels like to be pursued.  That part is easy.

But the heartache?  No.  I’d rather keep that to myself.

I’d rather be in a quiet lonely corner to lick my wounds, and go outside with a shiny mask that says “Oh ya we dated, but it was so brief.  It was nothing…I’m fine”.

But for me, the reality is that it was something.

It may have been brief, but it was significant to me.

And he meant a lot to me.

Sharing this feels like I have a bruise that people keep accidentally knocking into.  It’s not unbearable, just tender.  Really tender.

So it may sound a bit vague and ethereal, but for now it’s what I can share with you.

It’s over, and just like that, the heartache begins…

Late on Saturday night, I knocked on my best friend’s apartment door. She opened and the tears had already started. My heart was aching, no … actually it felt like it was bleeding full of remorse and what ifs. Like the best friend she is, she held me and let me cry. Not judging. Not trying to fix. Not giving cliche answers. She just let me be, and I felt safe.

She made me hot chamomile tea and sweet potato fries and as I laid on her lap she fed them to me.  Something about it felt holy. I cried some more, and then called a cab to take me home. Right before I left, as I zipped my puffer jacket to enter into the freezing cold New York winter night, she hugged me and whispered,“The sun will rise tomorrow, my love,” and I wept into her arms before heading downstairs to my waiting cab.

I climb in the cab exhausted with questions swirling through my head.

Less than ten minutes later the cab stops, and I quickly pay my fare through muffled sniffles.

My legs, like lead, take me upstairs.

As I open the door to my bedroom, I finally give myself permission to come undone.

And I do.

My clothes fall to the floor and, like a robot, I change into my pajamas, curling into a tight ball beneath my covers.

This hurts so bad.  My hands grip my chest and belly as if the pain were physical.

Why does it hurt so bad?

I wish I didn’t care.

Why did I let myself fall for him?

Maybe it would be better if we’d never met.

How long will it feel like this?

Does he feel it too?

Seconds or hours later, I’m not sure, with mascara tears falling onto my pillow, I drift to sleep…

And you know what happened?

The next morning I woke up, and the sun also rose.

With puffy eyes I laid in my warm bed remembering the pain of the night before, and the aftermath of the heartache I still felt. But she was right:  The night turned into dawn, and the sun also rose.

I wish I could say that I bounced right back, and got right back out there.  But the truth is that I didn’t.  At times I felt silly and dumb for being hurt.  But my heart did hurt, and I needed to give myself permission to let it hurt.

And haven’t we all been there:  the painful solitude of heartbreak.

Vulnerable and exposed; you feel lonely, and it’s exhausting.  The heaviness hovered, and seemed to be my constant companion in New York’s cold restless nights.

As the long winter days passed all I wanted was for it to be over, but the reality is this: Heartache is an experience I had to go through head-first.  There is no easy answer or quick fix.  There’s absolutely no quickening of the process.  No one can tell you how long it will last; it may be one night of tears, or a year down the road before you wake up unexpectedly realizing time has healed your heart.  “There is nothing we can do with suffering, but suffer”, C.S. Lewis wrote after the death of his wife.

As I journeyed  the valleys of my own heartache I reminded myself of it’s worth.  Love brought my soul to life.  Love invited me on a journey to dive deeply into the unknown.  Love asked that I let go of control, and surrender to the process of it all.  The first step was the hardest: allowing myself to be known, seen, heard, and cared for by another. But the freedom and joy that accompanied that was incomparable.

We gave each other permission to be. To hope and to struggle, and, in those quiet moments together, I learned love creates a sacred space between two people.

Because as pain can feel all-invasive: is it not the same with love? Love permeates and crashes into every cell of our beings. I would argue love is the most powerful thing in our human experience.

Love creates and evokes.

Love is magnetic.

Love heals and sets our souls free.

Love connects and unites.

Love forgives.

Love redeems.

Love hopes.

I look back on those freezing winter nights that collided with my broken heart, and I sit here with spring on my front porch and a spirit ready for a fresh start.

My winter wasn’t eternal (even though it felt like it at times), and the same thing is true about my heartache.  The morning did come.  And with it so did spring, and a new beginning.  Moving on doesn’t mean I forget the past.  My moments with this incredible guy will stay with me.  They were special, and I’m so grateful for them, and for him.   He taught me that with love there is endless possibility. If that means I must experience pain along the way, I am ok with that.  I wouldn’t take back one moment.  To live a full life is to love, taking on the great risk of the pain that might accompany it. Pain is real, there’s no denying it, but love is more real.  You may—no, you will get hurt—but to love is the only way you will truly live.  I can get back up.  And I’m ready for that.

So, I invite you to join me in the journey of spring.

Because no matter how dark a season the winter will always turn to spring.

And the sun will always rise again.



The Refined Man Is…Abandoned

April 21, 2015

Last Fall I met Tim + his now fiancé Jenn at Hillsong Conference in Manhattan.  Beyonce and Jay-Z better watch out because these two are a counter cultural power couple if I ever met one.  If you’ve spent any amount of time with Tim you know this about him:  he loves God, he loves people, and he is a man of integrity and honor.  (Also he has incredible style…I mean state the obvious right?).

I’m honored to have Tim + Jenn in my life, and so pumped to have Tim on The Refined Man on the day his book Abandon launches.  Y’all it’s awesome.  Go. Get. It.




Photos c/o Kat Harris

Normally when we hear the word abandon or abandoned, our first thought is usually a negative connotation—such as giving up, settling, forgoing responsibility, forgetting something, or leaving something behind.

Today I am asking you to throw out the negative images that come from the word abandon, and instead realize that the act of abandonment can actually bring you closer to God and closer to becoming The Refined Man God intended for you to be.

What would happen if we laid aside, or better yet, abandoned our need to compare ourselves to others?

Today we live in a world that loves to make comparisons.  Our society is consumed by it, because it’s a big business.  Take for instance these themes from some of the most popular shows on television: Who looked the best? or How to dress like your favorite celebrity. Magazine stands across the country are filled with articles dedicated to making comparisons and reminding you that you should do more so you can live and look like the person you admire.  (Who by the way has probably been photoshopped so much you would hardly recognize them if you saw them in person).


As a Man, heck even for women this type of thinking can be very dangerous to our growth.  One of the scriptures I keep in front of me on a daily basis says, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise”. (2 Corinthians 10:12)

If we always compare, we will never be content and thankful. Accept yourself for who you are:  strengths and weaknesses alike. Knowing who you are in God is vital to your development as a “refined man”.  The abandoned man stop’s comparing his possessions, appearance, performance, and circumstances to other people’s lives, and lives the way God intended for him to live:  Content.

Culture teaches us that we need more to be happy, but I believe true joy and happiness comes from being content. Which simply means I’m satisfied with what I have while I’m grinding to get what I want.  Does it mean I have everything I need at the moment…. No.  But what it does mean, is that I’m thankful for the things I do have, and that it does me no good to compare my apples to someone else’s oranges…

For a moment I want you to reflect on the comparisons you most often make…. Whether it’s the clothes you wear, or the car you drive, and understand that those things will not propel you forward.  Make up in your mind that you are not going to let who you were, better yet, who you are, talk you out of who you’re becoming… TimTimberlake.Abandon-3 If I could some all of this up into two things it would be that the abandoned man is:


The next time you find yourself making comparisons, remind yourself that you are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Let that sink in. You are one of a kind.



Remind yourself often of all that you are in God and discover the freedom that comes without comparisons.


Tim Timberlake