Finding God in the Secular Workplace: 4 Tips for Honoring Your Faith

Writing this post gives me major imposter syndrome. Who am I to advise anyone on keeping God and their Faith at the forefront of their day when I fail to do so many times? Know that as you read this, it is coming from someone who is also looking to do this more often; someone who wishes they had read this kind of article much earlier in life! It comes from a place of understanding and sincerity – I hope it helps in some way. The secular workplace (a place of work that is not a faith-based employer/organization) can be filled with opportunities to both honor your Faith and forget your Faith…it can be tricky and especially in today’s political climate.

I’ve been lucky enough to be employed into an environment where I’ve felt comfortable for the most part expressing my Faith when needed or asking to take time to go and do something Faith-related. That might look like using a lunch break to go to Daily Mass on First Fridays or using PTO so I can attend a Eucharistic Conference or even just having the privilege of taking a quick break to go and pray for five minutes in private. All the times I’ve ever felt embarrassed or scared to do something like make the Sign of the Cross or pray a Rosary in public, the fear has been self-imposed and I think that that is a phenomenon we’re seeing more frequently. People think everyone will care or be offended at what they’re doing when most of the time, as long as you’re respectful, they don’t. Even if they did, when it comes to your Faith, we (as in everyone: you AND I) need to be much more courageous in sharing it. So what if someone yells at us? Throws things or even beats us? Dare I say, even fire us?

Again, this can be much easier said than done. I know that. So I wanted to write some tips below to help begin taking those steps to being more fearless in our Catholic Faith (some I need to work on myself while others are things I try to do often). At the end of the day, the most important thing is that we try to live a life of Faith and devotion to the best of our ability. This will look different for everyone: some may be more outspoken and brave while others may be more quiet and private. The only time we fail is when we fail to defend Christ and our Faith from blatant evil or disrespect. There is a time and calling to everything and that is something each person must discern for themselves.

4 Things To Do To Honor God at Your Secular Workplace:

Religious Art and Quotes

The best way to begin a conversation about the Church as well as remind yourself of God’s presence in all things is through beauty! People love beautiful things and most of the time, it’s easy to get away with posting a picture of Jesus or the Blessed Virgin or any of the Saints on or near your desk. In my office, I have a few sticky notes with Scripture on the desktop as well as a card that has a Prayer for Life on it. Generally, I wear jewelry that always has something that draws back to my Faith – the miraculous medal around my neck, Crucifix earrings or Miraculous Medal earrings from The Little Catholic. I don’t necessarily recommend going this far but tattoos can even count in some ways as reminders – I have a tattoo of Magdalene with her alabaster jar of oil on my left wrist and a Memento Mori skull on my finger. There are many ways to intertwine the beauty of Sacred Art into your office or clothing and it’s usually a great way to start being more Faith-forward in a secular workplace.

Use Your PTO or Lunch Breaks for Church/Rest

Take time off! Use your PTO and lunch breaks to go to Mass or Confession or a Holy Hour. The whole point of PTO is to use it and what better way than to use it to balance your work life with your Spiritual Life. Perhaps take a long weekend to go on a Silent Retreat somewhere or attend a conference. If you’ve been feeling called to attending Daily Mass, try talking with your supervisor or employer about working out a schedule that fulfills your obligations but allows you to go to church when you want. Another big statement that I’ve noticed more Catholics slowly taking back is prioritizing Sunday as the Sabbath, a day of rest. If you’re able: don’t work – don’t answer emails, don’t answer calls, don’t answer text messages. Obviously, there are going to be some moments and careers that require working on Sundays (especially first responders, nurses, doctors etc.) but if you’re in any way able to not work and set strict boundaries to protect the sanctity of Sunday, do it.

Public Prayer

This for me is the hardest, even down to the Sign of the Cross, I get nervous praying in public. Some days I’m braver than others and will pray a Rosary with it laying in my lap and quietly muttering the prayers but other days temptation wins out and I look for a bathroom to sequester myself into to pray. For some of you, perhaps your environment may force you to pray in private – all of that is up to you, where you work, and the context of the situation. I think as long as we choose to pray instead of not (even if it’s silent), then we’ve chosen the narrow path and that’s good. Maybe set an alarm to go off at 12 PM or 3 PM, step away for a break to pray the Angelus or Divine Mercy Chaplet, respectively. Make the Sign of the Cross before your meal and make a point to pray for a minute or two before eating.

Talk About It

I work in a fairly open office where most of the time everyone gets along well. There are moments where I’ll get questions on why I’m eating less one day (fasting) or not eating meat or where I’m disappearing to on my lunch break — all asked respectfully, not interrogatively. And they are great opportunities to discuss Catholicism! So, I explain to the best of my ability why I abstain from meat on Fridays and sometimes fast or I’ll mention that I ran to confession or Mass real quick during my lunch break. There have been times where, again, I’ll chicken out for fear of ridicule or punishment but that’s never happened for me yet and I pray it doesn’t happen to anyone else. Keep in mind, someone responding in curiosity or even disagreement doesn’t mean it’s personal they might not be used to seeing a Catholic practice their Faith openly before. Stay hopeful and persist! If you’re able to fulfill your obligations to work while still making time for your own life and spiritual happiness, then there should be no problem. (I say it like that as an arguing point for you to use to your employer if need be – hopefully you won’t have to experience push back on trying to live your life outside of work).

Tell me in the comments your thoughts and what’s the hardest part about living in the world but not of it? Especially in the workplace?

Ad majorem Dei Gloriam,

The Joyful Servant

Learning to Love: The Importance of Boundaries and How To Set Them

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:12-13)

We are all called to love in all things. So when it comes to romantic love, especially in today’s world, the lines are blurred between the fraternal, Christian love that is a part of our inherent mission and romantic, sensual love between two people. It is no coincidence that these lines are blurred because by creating a gray area it means anything goes – people can prioritize pleasure over commitment, they can deny the natural order of the World for the sake of their own lust, and the reverent becomes irreverent. All these things are goals of the Enemy.

To understand what love is and how it exists in all areas of life as well as how we are called to act on love in various areas are crucial for living intentionally. Most of us know what it’s like to be led on or even perhaps to lead on someone else – it’s not a fun game to play. Some people may say they like “playing games” or “just want a good time” but that is never wholeheartedly meant, at least not for the long term. At some point, life is going to take a turn, times will get tough, and the desire for support, friendship, and a true connection will arise. True love is the blessing that sustains us through the desert that this World can be.

In some ways, the best way to figure out how to love is to understand how NOT to love. When we determine our boundaries, we protect our morals, beliefs, and feelings (“keeping the reverent reverent” so to speak) from those who do not see eye-to-eye. It’s kind of like when you’re online shopping and you filter the colors, pricing, and styles to only focus on those items you know you want and need. Boundaries provide a similar filtering in dating – they are healthy, they are good, they are needed.

Joyfully Setting Boundaries 

I have also noticed that we tend to make dating much more complicated than always necessary. Granted, we’re talking about an area that is filled with the full spectrum of human emotion and passion – complexity and drama is warranted at times. That being said, our society today is saturated with unhealthy expectations and understandings of love and emotions. We live in a world where everyone is always wanting more, more, and then even more then sit back and wonder why they get no fulfillment from their choices. We are not fasting with our feasting. We need boundaries.

“We are not fasting with our feasting.

We need boundaries.”

So, how do you determine your boundaries? Simple: sit down and list out what you want and do not want in a relationship. Make it as long as you want – then go through and circle the non-negotiables. Write down anything and everything; it could be certain physical traits, character traits etc. but then go through and really ask yourself, “do I really have to have this in a partner/spouse?” Whatever you end up circling are the boundaries you’ll place on YOURSELF as you start going on dates. For example, if you know you definitively want to only date Christians, don’t open yourself up to anything outside of that. If you’re open to any religion, then that is not a boundary you would emphasize.

The next list: sit down and think of your vices. What are you easily tempted to do? Gossip? Sex? Impurity? Drinking too much? Gambling? Be blunt and put them all down. Then next to them come up with traits and virtues that battle those vices – ex. if you struggle with vanity, write humility. Think of past relationships (not necessarily just romantic) and how they may have hurt or helped you taming your vices. What boundaries do you want/need in place of your next relationship that will help you be better? Because a healthy relationship does that: it brings out the best in you, not the worst.

Finally, brainstorm different ways of introducing these boundaries to others. Make sure you do this in a way that it is positive and get acquainted with your statements so that they easily come up when the time comes. If you’re on a date and the person asks you if you’re open to hook ups, responding in a way that makes you sound unsure of yourself or shy doesn’t properly represent your morals if you don’t believe in doing that. It’s not just about the message you’re sending to the other person (sounding unsure could potentially make them think you might be convinced) but also about being true to you and true to God. Make sense?

Crossed Boundaries + Shame

While we should all remain vigilant and hopeful that we will keep our boundaries in place…more than likely, we’re all going to cross a boundary at some point. I pray that that is not the case for many people but if it is for you (because it is for me), know that to err is human. The solution: get back up (figuratively speaking), go to confession, and repent of any potential sins – not all crossed boundaries are necessarily sins – then reflect on what caused the boundary to be crossed.

Sit with any emotions that may come up: embarrassment, frustration, shame, hopelessness, whatever you may be feeling, and just kind of watch those feelings go by. Recognize their existence but try not to let them rule yours. I will go to a trusted friend or family member for feedback (or even a priest) and sometimes just to vent. Once you feel capable of approaching the boundary objectively, try to think of what needs to be done in the future to make sure it is not crossed again. Another very important lesson would be to discern what God is trying to teach you through all of it as well.

Remember, that shame is a tool of the Devil. The Enemy wants us to be defeated and hopeless – to feel that is what keeps us from moving forward and seeing our God-given purpose. If a lot of the emotions you are feeling are overwhelmingly feelings of shame, my advice would be to step back and take some time for yourself. Go and talk with trusted people, especially priests, for guidance then just focus on your life as it is without anyone in it. Just for a little while! Enough time to not let the shame keep you from enjoying and participating in your life. Don’t let one crossed boundary be the destruction of your whole life.

Reclaiming Boundaries

I’m only going to say one thing about reclaiming your boundaries: you are allowed to re-set them (or set them in the first place) even after breaking them or never having any at all. You are worthy of that. If anyone says anything differently, they’re manipulating you. 

And, that’s all I have to say about that.

Journaling Prompts – Relationships and Boundaries:

  1. Grab a journal or piece of paper, set aside 30 minutes or so to reflect. Be completely honest with yourself doing exercises like this – you’re only hurting yourself when you aren’t honest about what you believe or want.
  2. First: make a list of the qualities you admire and would like in a relationship. It could be a characteristic of the other person or perhaps even a dynamic you want between the two of you (praying together, communication etc.)
  3. Go through and circle the non-negotiables. These are qualities that would be deal breakers.
  4. Now, go through again and ask yourself if you are emulating the qualities you want in your significant other yourself. If not, write a list of these things so you can make an action plan for doing them yourself.
  5. Secondly: meditate on what your vices are. What are the temptations you constantly fall to or battle? Write them.
  6. Now, go and write the opposing virtue next to each vice or sin and perhaps an action item to help cultivate the opposing virtue.
  7. For those temptations on your list (if any) that could easily come up in a relationship, write how you can set a boundary to protect yourself from falling to that temptation.
  8. Finally, for each boundary you wrote out, come up with a sentence you would actually say (word-for-word) to another person to set that boundary with them. Pro tip: make it sound positive, as if you’re happy to be setting it.

So, what do you think of these journaling prompts? Let me know!

5 Ideas on Feasting for Fatima: Rosaries, Peri-Peri Chicken, and More

It was last year that I first celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. My plan is to do most of it over again and that is what I’m really coming to love about liturgical living: creating traditions. When Candlemas rolled around this year, I got more excitement out of the fact that I would be cooking crepes and watching Mass the same way I did the year before to honor the day more so than eating the actual crepes themselves. That’s the whole point, isn’t it? Our first concern with liturgical living is to put God at the center of our lives and our time. The second concern should be to emphasize each liturgical event with a tradition in a way that adds a rhythm to our lives. One that ebbs and flows throughout our lives alongside God’s Word and Gospel.

You can read more about the history of Our Lady of Fatima here. In fact, I encourage you to browse America Needs Fatima’s website and explore organizations spreading her message because it is not only needed but also a beautiful devotion to practice. Other than reading about this Marian Apparition, here are some more ideas for celebrating this beautiful Feast!

(This year, the Solemnity of the Ascension of our Lord falls on May 13th which means it precedes celebrating Our Lady of Fatima. It is still okay to honor her in some way this day but be sure to attend Mass as it is a Holy Day of Obligation and give proper attention to the Ascension Solemnity as it is of most importance that day!)

Go to Mass

Celebrating a feast or liturgical event is really not all that complex – even just saying a prayer that is special to that day or event is enough to be considered “liturgical living.” You really only make it as ornate as you want to! Above all else, I think the best way to celebrate a feast is to get to Mass and focus on praying more throughout the day. In the case of Our Lady of Fatima, which again falls on a Solemnity this year so we should all be going to Mass anyways – perhaps after though, spend 15 extra minutes praying in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary or praying one of your three Rosaries to make a full crown (explained next).

It’s okay if you don’t make a full-blown Portuguese meal or break out in a traditional Spanish song – going to Mass is really the best way to celebrate and thus, that is why it is number one on this list.

Pray a Full Crown of Rosaries

I used to think that a full Rosary was just five decades until I read The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis de Montfort. In fact, a full Rosary is all fifteen mysteries contemplated (Glorious, Joyful, and Sorrowful). Of all days to pray a full Rosary, this might just be one of the top ones to consider doing so! One of the biggest takeaways from the story of Our Lady of Fatima is her urgency in getting us to pray the Rosary.

Pray one in the morning, one at lunchtime, and one before bed. Or, make sure to pray one at Mass this year and the other two whenever they best fit your schedule. There are videos you can follow along with, Sacred Art online you can meditate over with each mystery, or perhaps even praying with friends and family in a group – no matter how you do it, just pray a Rosary.

Watch Fatima

I still have not seen this movie yet and it is definitely something I plan on adding to my traditions for this year. It’s a small blessing that comes with living in 2021 that we have so much music, art, movies, and books that we can use to supplement Mass and prayer for liturgical celebrations! While of course it is always good to take a break from the noise and data-saturation that comes with technology, they can also be used for good and watching a movie that portrays important events in Church History is one such way to utilize modern day technology and art.

There are also many books on OLF you can read from throughout the day or perhaps, research her message and take small moments to read excerpts and pray over them. Research traditional Portuguese music and play in your car ride to work or Mass – there are many ways to dive into the universality of the Catholic Church which can make liturgical living not only fun but also very educational.

Make a Portuguese Dinner

Last year, the biggest undertaking for me was the cooking. Since we were knee-deep into lockdowns at that time, I couldn’t go to Mass BUT I did plan a big Portuguese meal to make the day feel extra special. Although this year, I’m very excited to be able to go to Mass and celebrate in the truest form. All that being said, I now have a food tradition that I hope to keep throughout my life for Our Lady of Fatima and that is Peri-Peri Chicken and Pasteis de Nata.

If you’ve ever seen the Great British Bake Off, you might know what Pasteis de Nata is – a delicious but not overly-sweet custard tart that originated from Portugal. Peri-Peri spice/sauce originates from both Portuguese and Africa and has been made famous with the global food chain, Nando’s, which is where I actually experienced it for the first time. When I was thinking of foods to make last year for the feast, I remembered going to Nando’s and was inspired to try making Peri-Peri Chicken at home. The recipes I’m using this year are below but my plan overtime is to be able to commit them to memory with my own twists so that they become me and my family’s own in a small way!

Pasteis de Nata

Peri-Peri Sauce

Wear A Chord Around Your Waist

Jacinta, Lucia, and Francisco, the three seers of Our Lady of Fatima, were children at the time the apparitions occurred. One of the details of their story that has always inspired me was when they felt called to tie chords around their waist as a form of penance. Ultimately, Our Lady of Fatima asked them to stop wearing the chords to bed as their sacrifices and penances had pleased the Lord and He did not want them to be in pain. That being said, wearing a chord is still a powerful form of penance. Should you choose to do this, I do urge you to do it prudently and with the proper disposition, consult a priest first if you must. Don’t make the chord so tight that you seriously injure yourself or bring attention to your discomfort. It should be tight enough that it reminds you throughout the day of what you’re doing but loose enough that you can bear to go along with your daily tasks albeit perhaps a little uncomfortably. Then, offer your private discomfort up for others (the souls in Purgatory, the unborn, for the proper consecration of Russia etc.)

I hope that you are excited to celebrate this beautiful Feast this year! Tell me in the comments what your plans are! If you’re interested in learning more about how to get started with liturgical living especially if you’re a young, single Catholic – check out my video below:

A #75Hard Journey: 5 Tips For Finishing It Strong

If you’re reading this, I’m assuming it is because you’re intrigued about potentially doing the 75Hard Challenge, or perhaps the whole LiveHard Program (created by Andy Frisella – you can check it out here). From what I’ve noticed: people either love or hate health/fitness/wellness challenges – there is usually no in-between. Most people who are sick-and-tired of hearing about it are going to peace out as soon as you start talking with a similar tonality as Tony Robbins – and that’s okay! Not everyone is into this kind of stuff and some people are. If YOU are, keep reading and watching along for my testimony and five tips to help you finish #75Hard.

To start, I gave my whole testimony in a YouTube video below. It outlines how I used 75 Hard to not only prepare for law school but also intentionally-kind-of-unintentionally as a supplement to my prayer and spiritual practice as well. If you’re interested in hearing a more personal testimony, what I did and did not do for the challenge – watch below!

If you’re here just for some tips in the case that you are starting your own personal 75 Hard Journey, I’ve listed my top five takeaways for finishing strong!

My Tips For Finishing #75Hard:

  1. Make The Tasks Easier on Yourself: At the beginning of each week, as well as when you first start the program, set aside time to plan and schedule in as many of the tasks, or what you’ll need to complete the tasks, as you reasonably can. Go ahead and get a gallon-sized water bottle (or half gallon and fill up twice), get the app so you can just check off tasks as you go ($5 for life), commit to what types of workouts you’ll do and print them out/save them somewhere so you can just refer to them and get them done without second guessing, and set an alert to take the progress photo at a time you know you’ll get it done (for me that was best in the morning).
  2. Set Yourself Up For Energy Not Burn Out: if you’re going from not working out barely at all to working out twice a day, be realistic about what your body can do. At the beginning, I told myself three main activities would be my baseline (if I do something different or more, great!): walks, running, and Pilates. By having three types of activities that I would rely on, I didn’t waste time trying to figure out what to do. I had only one of three things I could pick from for that workout. With the Pilates, I picked one main person after trying a few different YouTube accounts – again, it cut down on decisions: just go to their page, pick out the latest video or line up enough videos that I hit the 45 minute mark. This was also a great way to learn more about a particular type of exercise, in my case, Pilates; as opposed to changing it up so often that I don’t learn about proper form, intermediate/advanced sequences etc. (Move With Nicole’s YouTube page is my favorite!)
  3. Stop the Doubting: not everyone is like this but if you doubt yourself and second guess a lot, this will help. Set limits and boundaries. I picked the Mediterranean diet as my “diet” which is inherently not restrictive. So, how in the world would I know if I cheated? For me, I drew the line at no processed snack foods, fast foods, or sugary items like soda. Any of those would be considered a cheat meal. Everything else is fair game: that being said, I was still very stingy with grains, chocolate (I stopped eating dark chocolate on Day 4 to challenge myself even more) etc. Once you have that limit set it will help any doubt you might have as to whether you’re doing the program “right.” This is also a great mindset for stopping doubt in other areas: pick exercises you know are doable but still challenging, pick books that are interesting but perplexing and maybe even complex and so on.
  4. Have Accountability Partners: it is much easier to quit something when you haven’t told anyone. For me, I told myself I would share this journey with my Dad and therapist so I could have accountability on it and also vent to people when it got tough. By week three I was starting to talk to anyone and everyone about it because my mental/emotional health had taken a 180 degree turn for the better and others were noticing too! It’s hard NOT to talk about this when you see such big changes! I am now in a group text of five other likeminded women who are on their 75 Hard Journeys and it’s amazing to be a part of as well as witness.
  5. Understand Your Why…Then Tape It Somewhere You’ll See It: why are you doing this? For me, it was both spiritual and as a way to prep mentally and physically for law school. I wanted to know that I could manage my time, commit to something and see it through all the while creating healthier habits for the long-term. Sit down and really consider what it is about this program that allures you to it…what repels you? More than likely, your “why” is buried somewhere in between those two dichotomies – what you want to get from the program and what keeps you from doing it. Pick out that “why,” tape it where you’ll see it, and get started.

These tasks force you to think ahead, plan, and be on top of your schedule. All of which is going to more than likely change your sleep schedule, your routines, your planning – this is GOOD. The fact it is for 75 Days, which is only the first of four total phases in LiveHard, is super exciting because it makes creating real long-term change in our health and wellbeing that much more attainable. If this is how I feel now at the end of these 75 days, imagine how I’ll feel next year if I can complete Phase 4.

“75 Hard is truly about changing your life and mindset for the better.”

A Conversation About Stewardship + A House Guide for Starting Your Intentional Journey

The Heart of Sustainability

I started my journey to living more “sustainably” in 2017 when I moved into an apartment solo for the first time.  Every single decision I made was fueled by a sense of shame and guilt for being wasteful. Deep down, there was that true love for wanting to be resilient and mindful of the Earth. Yet, each failure or obstacle along the way where I “messed up” or created waste would result in a pitfall of eco-guilt.

Fast forward four years to now and my outlook on this process has completely changed – don’t worry, I still try my best to cut down on waste: I’ll bring my own tupperware places and usually bring my own food more than eat out (although I still eat out), when I buy products I always look for used/secondhand, low-waste and cruelty-free brands, plus over the past few years have been whittling away at donating/re-gifting items that no longer fit or are not used. 

For transparency’s sake though I still want to take a moment to address my achilles heel when it comes to trying to be more intentional. There are moments where I succumb to self-imposed pressure and buy new clothes for work or upcoming school. I do not compost as there are no readily available composting sources where I live and our recycling system here is sorely lacking. I drive to work everyday and so much more. 

It is so easy to get into that mindset of tallying up all your efforts, successes, and failures when it comes to this kind of effort. But, as it did before, that mindset leads to burn-out. While guilt is  a great motivator for change, too much of it is ultimately counterintuitive. 

Sustainability is not a competition, it’s a state of life. 

One of resiliency and fortitude, resourcefulness and intentionality. The biggest change that has occurred is not my opinion on whether I should be sustainable or not but how I go about that and why. 

My ‘How’ and ‘Why’

Fear, eco-guilt, different adversities in life may alter living sustainably being a goal: money, time, and resources are some of the main things that can keep someone from making environmental stewardship a priority. What if I told you that making and keeping it a priority would completely change, not only our personal lives, but our culture as a whole? And for the better?

Enter: intentional living. I love this term so much, and I do because it truly gets to the heart of the matter. Everyone’s journey to living more sustainably is going to be different, some more smoothly than others. When we put the focus on the effort to try and be more mindful of our decisions and the impact it has on the world and other people, I think it will hit home for people more than just talking about Global Warming or Sustainability – especially since, unfortunately, we live in a world where those two terms have been heavily politicized. 

Is it possible to say you lived a life completely zero-waste? No.

Is it possible to say you lived a life of intentionality? Yes.

That’s the difference.

The largest motivator for me now when it comes to living intentionally is my Faith. One of my favorite examples of someone living out respect and love for Creation is Saint Francis of Assisi. Saint Francis was one of the most intentional people, besides Jesus Himself, to ever walk the Earth. Every single decision he made, he did it to glorify God and He saw God in everything. Saint Francis literally made the World his Church and every day was just another worship song to share the Truth. 

Where Do We Go From Here?

So there’s more to this conversation. For me, it is rooted in my faith: resiliency, compassion, resourcefulness, and temperance. The products we use and fill our lives with are more than just mere possessions – they are glimpses into how we view ourselves and those around us. It is no coincidence that we live in a world where most products are made to be thrown away. Our culture is so scared of commitment and true care for others that it has extended into our supply chain as well. If we started to really and truly care for every single thing we bring into our lives and the lives those things affect when we purchase them, we would see a mass change in our culture too. 

You don’t convince others or yourself, for that matter, that caring for the Earth is important by debating or arguing or shaming them. If you want to convince others to live more intentionally: show them. Be a beacon to that way of life and how much joy and benefits it can bring. Be Saint Francis. Our attempts to do so will be better in some seasons of life than others but the heart of our stewardship should no longer just be about “being green” or trying to solve the world’s issues on our own – it is a deeper, more meaningful, and divine reason to live out this calling that all of us are invited to.

Keep in mind, our time here is limited and so is Earth’s. This home of ours will pass away – this doesn’t make our efforts to care for it fruitless or pointless, if anything it means more. Remember: living intentionally with the goal to live in a way that betters the world than when you found it not only heals the Earth but it heals people too. That deep passion and nurture for our environment, and everything in it, brings people closer to God, who is all love and nurture.

Isn’t that ultimately what we want?

Beginner’s Intentional Guide For Starting Environmental Journey

Start Here: go through each room of your house and take note of areas that have more waste. It helps if you’re in the process of decluttering and organizing too so you can see everything. Here are some questions to help:

Kitchen: do we recycle? Compost? Are we able to in this area? If so, how do those processes work? Do we throw out food a lot? Do we eat out a lot? Is most of our waste plastic? What are some items in here that I can replace with reusable items instead of disposable?

Bedrooms & Closets: do we use these items anymore? If so, how often? Would I miss them if they were gone? Do they fit? Are they broken? Can we fix them? For those things you want to get rid of: can you donate to a thrift or consignment store? Can you gift to someone? Can you sell online? Can you buy more ethical/sustainable options when it comes time to?

Living Room/Hallways/Community Areas: is there a lot of clutter? If so, why? Do we keep multiple items or things we don’t use/need? Do we decorate? If so, do we decorate with meaningful items that will last a long time? Is it hard to keep clean? Do we use the items in these areas? Would I miss them if they were gone?

Bathroom & Laundry: what are some reusable swaps I can make in here? Are my products all packaged in plastic? Are they cruelty-free? Toxic substance free? Can I afford those products? If not, what are some other ways I can make better decisions in here? How long do we shower or run water?

Habits: do I shop a lot? Online or out in public? Do I eat out a lot? Can I bring my own Tupperware? Am I able to start cooking at home and prepping meals more? Can I afford to buy more local items (local meats/dairy, CSA boxes, farmer’s markets etc.) What are my habits when it comes to shopping – is it more spur of the moment, emotional etc. Do I make an effort to recycle? Do I take time to learn more about ways to be a better environmental steward? Do I talk and invite others into the conversation?

Let me know what you think of this guide and if you’d be interested in a PDF version!

Seasonal Living: 5 Ways to Celebrate Spring

I used to hate Spring. Truly! Growing up, I remember feeling uninspired, bored, and dreading the hot weather when April would roll around. If you were to ask me today how I feel about it, I’d tell you that I love it. It’s been a goal for the past year or so to work on cultivating more joy into my life year-round, not just when good things like holidays and milestones happen. The way to start is by searching for things to find joy in and making time to celebrate them all year-round – this goes hand-in-hand with living intentionally since it requires you to reflect on what’s worth celebrating…and to me, that’s the best part.

Below are some ways that I celebrate Spring – to clarify, when I say “celebrate” it doesn’t necessarily have to be a big party (although I had a big Garden Party for all my friends planned last year before COVID hit, one of these days it will happen). Sometimes, it is as simple as intentionally setting aside the time to do something specific to honor a specific thing. Celebration is truly just a state of being that comes from your state of mind!

“Celebration is truly

just a state of being that comes

from your state of mind!”

Freshen Your Home

If you think about all the ways we describe and symbolize Spring, it gives a pretty good indicator of what we feel makes Spring, Spring. Flowers, sunshine, light breezes, Easter, baby creatures – it’s a season of newness, life, and growth. Have you ever wondered why Spring cleaning was a thing? Personally, I think it stems from when Christians would deep-clean and declutter their home during Holy Week to prepare for Easter. However, it’s also a great way to help yourself be in a better mental and emotional state!

Don’t make this overwhelming! For each week, pick a room that you’ll tackle until you’re done. Next thing you know, not only will your whole house be clean, but by the time Summer comes around you’ll have spent the season, even in this small way, celebrating by making your home match that Springtime feeling of freshness and newness. Here are some tips for starting out:

1) declutter first and separate items from things to find a home for and things you’re not sure if you should give away. Hide the latter group until you can decide and in the meantime, research ways to responsibly re-home the other items!

2) organize your things in new ways which can help make your spaces feel new. Re-arrange furniture, where/how you store items and try to use what you have already before splurging on new stuff. If you do end up buying, try to buy used or thrift!

3) clean! Lately, my goal has been trying to set up a regular cleaning cycle each week where I knock out a room or area every day so that cleaning the house is not so overwhelming. We do have someone who comes regularly to do a deeper clean but there’s always stuff to do between those times like sweeping, vacuuming, dusting etc.

If you need more reasons to consider incorporating this into your life, read the article below about how cleaning connects to mental wellness:

Article: “The Powerful Psychology Behind Cleanliness”

Be Intentional About Going Outside More

A true gamechanger for me this season of life has been going on my daily, morning walks. I’ve been doing 45-minute walks and it really feels like a little retreat during the day. Yes, even during pollen season! I highly recommend finding ways to step outside more. I nearly fell asleep reading on our front porch yesterday because the weather was so delicious. If you need more incentive for trying this out: getting outside helps with mental and emotional wellness too. Here are some ideas for getting outside (especially if you’re busy):

  • schedule time in for a walk (even if it’s only 10-15 minutes, try to aim for at least 15 minutes)
  • eat lunch outside at work
  • start a garden or get some plants for your porch/deck to draw you outside
  • get a bird feeder that you can refill to also get you looking and going outside
  • plan a picnic with friends
  • join a recreational group (running, soccer, golf etc.) that plays outdoor sports
  • go hiking
  • enjoy your coffee on the porch
  • open your windows/curtains as soon as you wake up

Article: “Sour mood getting you down? Get back to nature”

Eat Seasonally

This part is the hardest for me as I’m a creature of habit, I’ll make the same meals for every day of the week to cut down on waste and budget. So, a lot of the produce I get is typical produce you’d find in any store but not necessarily always “local” or “seasonal.” Eating seasonal produce has both great effects on health and the environment: 1) it diversifies your plate which means more nutrients, 2) it makes you a better cook by having to switch up your recipes and knowledge of food to cook with whatever is in season, and 3) it makes you more mindful of what grows in your area instead of shipping in produce from another country which can take a lot of time, money, and resources. (Go and read the “Economy of a Banana”) P.S. I’m not saying to never eat bananas, I love bananas! Just be more mindful and branch out to try new things here and there!

Here are some ideas for practicing more seasonal eating and ways to make it fun!

  • Go to a farmer’s market as much as you can (BONUS: talk with the farmers about their produce and where they are from)
  • Pick out a new vegetable or fruit to try each week that you haven’t before
  • Subscribe to a local CSA box
  • Look around for local resources for dairy and meat
  • Plan a cooking night with friends/family where everyone brings a dish made from local, seasonal produce (or cook together!)

Set and Reflect on Goals

The beginning of the year is not the only time to set and reflect on goals – utilize Springtime as a way of reinvigorating your New Year’s goals and perhaps, even make this a quarterly check in. Just set aside some time around the first day of Spring (30 minutes to 1 hour) to make a vision board, write a list of your short, mid, and long-term goals or bullet journal how the first quarter of the year has gone and how you’d like the rest to go.

Practice Joy…and Enjoy It

Joy is a muscle. You grow it, you exercise it, you utilize it. You don’t let it just sit around weakening or ignore it when it comes your way. I really do encourage you to make a regular practice of finding the things that bring you joy in each season of life. It’s a game changer. I went from disliking Spring and it being my least favorite season to me not having favorites anymore because I look forward to every season!

A few of the things that have really made Springtime a season of joy and one I love:

  • sunrise walks even though it was initially difficult to get up early/not get winded or tired
  • a good cup of coffee even if it takes a little longer to make it
  • starting my mornings slow with prayer and reading even though it requires scheduling
  • eating healthy but still listening to my body
  • gardening even though it requires scheduling and budgeting
  • getting fresh flowers, especially tulips, even if it means paying a few extra dollars

…did you notice? A lot of these things that I LOVE also all require taking the time to schedule it in, budget for it, or just patience. All good things usually do. That is what Spring has taught me this year.

So, give Spring a shot – come up with your own annual traditions to really embrace this season of life and exercise your joy! Tell me what you’re going to try in the comments!

“Joy is a muscle.

You grow it, you exercise it, you utilize it.”

‘What is Truth?’

“The existence of truth is self-evident. For whoever denies the existence of truth grants that truth does not exist and, if truth does not exist then the proposition: ‘truth does not exist’ is true, and if there is anything true, there must be truth.”

– Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica 1Q2, A1

“What is truth?”

I watched the scene unfold on the screen this past Easter Sunday as it would if I were reading the scene from the Bible (John 18:38). Pontius Pilate’s character in The Passion of the Christ, with open palms and jaded tone asked Jesus Christ, “quid est veritas?” My stomach dropped. I have often asked this question and a few years ago did so in a very public manner when I wrote an article for The Courier-Tribune (Asheboro, NC) that was aptly titled “Your Truth Is Not My Truth – Or Is It?” and it remains one of my biggest failures as a writer to date. I’ll explain why it was a failure here in a second but not until after I tell you what happened after the article was published…

Not too long after, I had received a few different comments from readers. As a beginning freelancer, to receive any response at all was amazing! The first two responses I received from readers were very complimentary and certainly inflated my ego; but then, I read the response published by The Undercurrent challenging the logic and reasoning behind my article. Since then, my words have haunted me.

My Critic Is Correct

I remember reading Duke’s response and thinking to myself, “I agree with everything he’s saying.” I also remember re-reading my own article and still thinking to myself, “I stand by what I said…so, where did I go wrong? How can both of these be correct to me at the same time?” Years later, as I tried to write a response last year in 2020, I printed off both articles to try and get to the bottom of what was going on. Duke and I can’t both be right, right? Since I’m the only person who can explain my intentions, I believe my errors were three-fold:

  1. I was attempting to apply an anthropological point of view as an analogy to an exercise from a creative writing class I was in and also to a fiction book that had inspired that class that explores “truth.” There’s nothing wrong with that, per se, if we’re just looking at the article from a creative lens but it definitely alters my message. Although I was steeped in more relativistic views at that time of writing this article, I still believed, and always have, in an objective right and wrong. I should have made that clear and established the boundaries within which I was examining what Truth is.
  2. My goal for the article was for readers to walk away considering their impact on people. Although you wouldn’t believe it reading the article, I was attempting to explain how the impact we have on the world is not always what we think it is – my main intention was never actually, directly about Truth. Our intentions don’t always come through crystal-clear (I know, the irony is not lost on me in this situation). If someone is hurting and they’re telling you that they’re hurting, who are you to tell them they are not hurting? I wanted to stress the need for empathy but unfortunately, it was lost underneath a very poorly executed argument. Mea culpa, mea culpa.
  3. Let’s face it: the more you write and debate, the better you get at it. On topics concerning such heavy items as truth, relativism, and empathy, I need more work and experience! What you’re reading when you read that article is an essay by a college student who was undergoing intense self-reflection and discovery on what her world views and opinions were at the time. Many of them were very conflicting inwardly just as they were outwardly. Ultimately, I should have written on something else if we’re talking about expertise here – “write what you know,” you know?

The Truth Will Build You Up

We live in an age where everyone wants immediate responses. There’s a phenomenon occurring in discourse day-to-day where if you don’t talk or type fast enough or respond within an acceptable timeframe (and “acceptable” is very subjective here), you must be ignorant. It wasn’t that long ago that people would wait weeks and months to receive letters from loved ones but now we live an age where if you don’t send out the perfect thought in 140 characters or less, you’re considered dumb or that your argument is weak. Here I am, five years later finally stringing along sentences I should have said originally but again, we learn in our own time and often through error do we get better. Don’t let this self-imposed pressure to speak quickly keep you from speaking truthfully and prudently.

What I want to get across today that I did not in my original article: there will always be someone who experiences life differently from you. That does not negate the existence of Truth, it just makes the journey to finding it a little more complex. I can understand now how my words defended a relativistic view of “truth” (i.e. there is none). But Truth is real and it does exist – there is objective right and wrong, truth and falsity. My concern for the article was to get across the need for more empathy in our world, true empathy. Not just the smile-at-a-stranger-kind of passive empathy but true, listening, understanding, and researching kind of empathy. The kind that makes you want to get your hands dirty finding solutions to the world’s problems instead of just arguing with people all day to hear your own voice (sums up a lot of the politicians in today’s world, in my lowly opinion.)

Empathy and justice can co-exist. We’ve just done a horrible job at creating a world that nurtures that.

People have no sense of justice anymore. Only tit-for-tat politics based on faulty logic (much like my original article) and vengeance.

People have no empathy anymore. They only care about themselves and vindicate their selfishness because “everyone else is being rude to them too.”

These extremes are creating a never ending cycle of insanity.

Unfortunately, we are long past the age where educated discourse can take place. Everyone has to have the last word and if everyone is so focused on getting that perfect 140-character-comeback-Tweet then who is taking the time to think before they speak? We are so scared of making mistakes, coming off as stupid when people find out about our mistakes, or offending others when we are simply expressing and discussing ideas that we’ve created a never ending field of landmines out of words.

What I Would Tell Pontius Pilate

If I had the opportunity to talk to Pontius Pilate in that moment, I think I would hug him first. I know what it is like to feel jaded, to be overly concerned with earthly things and people. It wears on your soul and starts to chip away at your logic. I would tell him to not let the wiles of this world keep him from seeing that Truth is as real as water. It is inherent, logical and discoverable – anyone who claims to “believe in Science” should be climbing up this hill to defend the existence of Truth. Yet, it seems that the very people you would think would defend it are running in the other direction.

“I would tell him to not let the wiles of this world keep him from seeing that Truth is as real as water.

It is inherent, logical, and discoverable.”

On a more spiritual note, if I was with Pontius Pilate in that moment, I would take his hands and point to Jesus Christ. The man standing before him whipped, beaten, bleeding, hemorrhaging, broken, and yet, still standing. A man who was innocent and yet, was traded in for a murderer. A man who forgave and prayed for his critics until His last dying breath. The Truth was staring Pilate in the face and yet, he still couldn’t see it? He still had to ask what Truth was?

We are all Pontius Pilate.

When my stomach dropped hearing those words escape his mouth in front of Jesus at that moment, all I could hear were my own words. I felt the shame that I hope Pontius Pilate did later when realizing what he had done. He may have washed his hands clean (Matthew 27:24) but his words still made him culpable in the crucifixion of Our Lord. All I could see were the very same arguments and ideas that are being spewed and shared, which I unfortunately have contributed to, in today’s world.

We live in an age where Pontius Pilate is ruling. Let’s not let him walk away without understanding the Truth this time.

What Would Socrates and Hemingway Do?

My biggest inspirations as a writer, although there are many, are Ernest Hemingway and Socrates. Both of them have one thing in common and that is their ability to withstand critique and challenges. After all, the teaching method where professors answer their bright-eyed pupil’s questions with more questions is called the Socratic Method for a reason. Hemingway himself had a career-long rivalry with F. Scott Fitzgerald. Both are legends that live on in literary history. Neither one canceled the other. They critiqued each other instead.

One can only hope that a single person’s critique will leverage you to the same level as renowned, dead philosophers and writers (if that’s the case, I owe Duke a drink) but more than likely that won’t happen. I’ll live. What WILL happen is progress – being challenged on my thought process, writing execution, and ideas did not kill me. It forced me to know myself better. Looking back over my article showed me all the ways I can get better. Does that mean that I completely kowtow to Duke’s opinion? No. I stand by portions of my ill-executed point that during the length of our lives we often form opinions and beliefs about the world that in turn affect the way we act and our actions affect those around us. Sometimes in ways we don’t even realize. However, I agree with him that my flawed execution of that argument tries to prove that Truth does not exist…and it fails, as it should because Truth does exist.

What I committed was a False Analogy fallacy: if I wanted to talk about empathy, I should have talked about empathy. So, the next time I write an article or vocalize an opinion, I’ll keep in mind the things I’ve learned from this experience: what’s the point I’m trying to get across? Am I doing that? How am I doing that? How would this sound to a stranger? All practical questions we could ask ourselves when writing Facebook posts or Tweets or whathaveyou.

Freedom of speech is for everyone. Even for the person you don’t like. Even for the idiot who keeps talking when everyone wants them to shut up. It exists for the person you agree with as well as for your critic. Had my critic never written his article, I would never have realized how badly executed my message originally was. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed after reading Duke’s review to find that he did not lavish me with glorious praise and idolization. However, once my ego came back down to earth I realized that Duke had done me a huge favor and one that I was already paying thousands of dollars to go to school for: challenging me. If your idea, more importantly your ability to represent an idea, cannot withstand the rigors of questions, debate, and argumentation – then there’s something wrong either with the idea, your knowledge on the subject, or both.

Most importantly, did you see what Duke did NOT do? He didn’t cancel me. He didn’t ask for my article to be withdrawn or for the editor to demand an apology. He didn’t start a hashtag with my name calling for my head on a platter or send me death threats. He wrote his own, thought-out response challenging me to either shut up or defend myself. Another piece of dialogue, moving the conversation forward and being challenged on our opinions is not the end of the world nor does it make the critic a bad person.

Sometimes, a critic is exactly who you need to help you see the Truth.

Living With Intention: What Does That Mean?

Since starting my journey to living more sustainably took off in 2017, I’ve slowly come to realize how easy it is to get lost in the sustainability and green “fads.” It’s the same sensation you get when you see ads for new clothes only with the end goal of being “sustainable” instead of fashionable. But, just like everyone has a different body size so is everyone at a different place mentally, emotionally, financially, spiritually etc. in their lives. One size does not fit all.

If you’re not vegan, does that mean you’re not properly pursuing sustainability? If you don’t compost, are you failing? If you recycle, are you contributing to the broken system or helping keep items from the landfill? Not every woman wants to (or can) use period panties or a diva cup – does that make their commitment to a more environmentally in-sync world less so? It’s all relative, truly (and I don’t mean that in the way that everyone is throwing around relativism these days). These things depend on our health, where we live, our resources…this isn’t to say we shouldn’t strive for them but they shouldn’t be the criteria by which someone is judged as to whether they are improving the world or not.

Living intentionally is more inclusive to our whole being than just focusing on being low-impact, zero-waste, green, environmentally-friendly or any other moniker that has been thought of to describe all the same efforts.

There is so much more to the conversation surrounding sustainability than just recycling, reducing, reusing, zero waste, etc. Living with intention encompasses living sustainably and intersects with the rest of our being – it is holistic. If you’re religious or not – it touches on that. If you’re able-bodied or not – it includes that. If you’re living on a tight budget or have money to spare – it encompasses that. It forces us to reflect on all areas of our life: financial, mental, emotional, physical…to figure out what our next best steps moving forward in our lives should be.

“Living with intention encompasses

living sustainably and intersects with

the rest of our being – it is holistic.”

Kimbermarie faircloth

Our culture today is fast – our food, our technology, everything. To the point that it resists the pace and inherently perfect design of nature. We can eat produce that naturally is not found in our hemisphere and even then, still choose to buy the $3 meal made of mainly grains and sugar. We can buy clothes that were made in a blink of an eye with fabrics made with who-knows-what produced by strangers who may be dealing with exploitation, no pay, and/or horrible work conditions. What’s worse is that our access to the “better” options: the ethical clothing, the organic foods, the healthier lifestyles are generally more expensive. We’ve become so out of touch with the rhythm of the natural world, our natural bodies, and the cycles that have always worked well on their own that we have put a price on the supply chains that can help us get back to those very things. The irony is palpable.

This type of living slowly wears on the soul. Do you ever catch yourself wondering why you buy the things you do? Balking at your credit card bill after a splurge at Hobby Lobby or Target? Do you know the people who made the clothes you wear or the decor you arrange on your nightstand? Do you know what your body needs? Your mental or emotional health? Perhaps, even spiritual? When we steep ourselves in this constant flow of just buying things and doing things without considering “why” we do them, or how they affect others, we live a life on a superficial level. 

So, living intentionally – it’s radical. It is actively choosing to meet yourself where you are at, do what you can at this moment to do better and live out your ethos in every breath you take. Simple, right? (That was rhetorical and sarcastic). It does take more time, more research, more pauses, and more sympathy. But at the end of my life, I would rather be surrounded by people, my home, and memories that I built consciously and slowly over my lifetime with love than being buried alive in knick-knacks being forgotten by people who I only have superficial relationships with. Living intentionally should extend to every aspect of your life. Not just your waste or recycle or compost.

It extends from your interactions with people every day to your presence on social media. From your diet and groceries down to your health and finances. From your belongings and clothing to your idealized self and purpose. Choosing to live intentionally should infuse every aspect of your life because to live intentionally you infuse every decision and action you take with yourself. If you don’t know what it is you want your life to be about or purposed towards, then naturally you would find this concept overwhelming. Here’s the thing though…

I’m not saying you need to have a life plan or even a 5, 10, or 25 year plan. That’s not what I’m talking about. When I say “know what it is you want your life to be about or purposed towards,” I’m talking about macro-level impact here. Do you want to cause harm or peace? Do you want to be efficient or wasteful? Do you want to be resilient or fragile? Do you want to do good or bad? These questions can be answered simply with “yes” or “no.” The hard part is distilling these decisions down to our actions and thoughts. That’s where the work begins. Intentional living in a world that now thrives off of superficiality and quantity over quality is going to be difficult. Thankfully, it also encompasses our “failures” as well as our efforts to do better – both of them matter. We learn from the failure and seek to do better. This. is. intentional. living.

This type of living takes time. It won’t happen overnight. But it will be worth it.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

-Matthew 6:19-21

Intentional living is for everyone. There is no contest or scale – just the slow progress towards a better self and world, which will look different for everyone…but imagine how different the world would be if everyone embraced just that.

“Is This The Path For Me?” Three Tips for Discerning Career, School, and Big Life Decisions

I wish I could say that I had a lightening-bolt moment where the heavens opened up around me and harps played signaling that my life’s calling was to be a lawyer. Alas, that did not happen. However, what did happen, which I find to be all the more meaningful and personally empowering is the process by which I landed on this decision to pursue becoming a lawyer. The earliest I remember being interested in this were at various times throughout middle and high school growing up – random daydreams usually after hearing a lawyer talk about their career or seeing something eventful or interesting on television. Then the urge would dissipate as I became distracted by one of my many other interests.

As I entered the College of Charleston, I flipped back and forth between different paths (as most students do). I knew for a fact I wanted to keep my Anthropology degree but was lost in where to go from there (a subject I will dive deeper into in the future). I remember buying an LSAT prep book but never getting past Chapters 2 or 3 and never committing to actually signing up for the LSAT. The end of my college career was a whirlwind – I ultimately dropped a minor so I could move back home and finish my last few classes online a semester early to be close to my mother who was diagnosed with cancer. I don’t regret that decision.

Fast forward to 2020, it’s the beginning of the lockdowns in March due to COVID-19. I have a little more time on my hands since I’m working from home with no commute to work. I had spent the last year in my first “big girl” job as a leasing agent with full-benefits and good pay for a great company after facing around six-months of unemployment post-graduation, with the exception of part-time time gigs found by a temp agency.

One of the first days of lockdown, I remember texting my sister asking her opinion on what she could see me doing and if she could see me being a lawyer.

“Will it make you happy?”

“Yes, I think it could and I think I could be very good at it.”

I had my answer. I started prepping for the LSAT, which I would later sit for in November, finally feeling more secure in my purpose and the life I wanted to have moving forward. All that being said, there’s three MAJOR details that I want to emphasize for any fellow future-law students, college students figuring out their next step or anyone who is discerning a potential career change. Looking back on my journey, I’ve found that these three things played a large role in my decision-making process that I feel will help others too:

#1: Talking to People

Quick: who are the people closest to you that you can trust the most? Whoever came to mind, write their names down. Use them as sounding boards for your discernment process. These people should know you very well and should be people that you can go to about anything but who will give you honest answers. For me that was my Dad and my sister with a few very close friends. Ultimately, their opinion should NOT be the defining voice in your plan – you should be. So, even if they tell you some opinions you don’t want to hear, take their input and really mull over it. If it upsets you, reflect on why. If it excites you, reflect on why.

The other people you should be talking to are those who are doing whatever it is you want to do. When I worked for the temp agency, I landed a part-time job working for an Estates Lawyer which would later be very impactful in my decision. I got to see the day-to-day of one type of lawyer, the good and the bad that came with her position, as well as at least one area of law in practice. That experience, plus gaining advice and guidance from that lawyer and hearing her journey through law school helped me start mine. I also relied on other friends and acquaintances who are either going through law school or have already graduated and are out “in the world” (some working as attorneys and some not) to gain their insights.

This website also has a great outline for preparing and discerning law school: What Do Lawyers Do?

#2: Data Dump

If you’re going to pursue something, especially any sort of professional or graduate degree, you need to know what you’re getting into. More than likely, after talking with people who are in the field, they’re going to give you resources. Some more helpful than others.

Use them.

You don’t have to treat them like the Bible – after all, everyone’s experience is different – but they will help you get a more holistic idea of what you are or might be pursuing. I’ve read articles written by people who have been left in debt, embittered, and regretful of their time in law school as well as heard from those who are successful and happily running their own law practice or working in law now. Both help and are necessary to listen to for a fuller understanding of what it means to be a lawyer.

Research the different industries within law – trademark, cultural heritage, environmental, corporate etc. (If you’re pursuing a different field, do the same, I assure you there will be many different subsets and industries wherever you’re headed). Look at the current growth rate for lawyers, which sub-industries are booming, bar passage rates for your school (or those you are interested in applying to), different law schools in your area, day-to-day experiences of different types of lawyers etc. the list goes on and on. Take in as much as you can about the career you’re interested in and then see what excites you and what does not. If you start to get overwhelmed, step back, take a break, and pick up at a later time.

A great place to start, the American Bar Association.

#3: Visualize

So, this is going to be the part that is most ‘woo-woo.’ Yes, I want you to visualize yourself as a lawyer. Use all the experiences that you’ve heard and details you’ve researched to paint a picture in your head.

Here’s the catch: don’t just envision success.

You could pursue law school to find that you hate it, it’s not at all what you want to do and/or it’s much much harder than you ever thought it could be. The opposite could also be true: it may be something you love, it’s exactly what you expected, and although it is rigorous, you’re doing it. Most of us are already daydreaming anyways, the key here is to visualize both the good and the bad.

If visualizing the bad really makes you uneasy and question whether you want to move forward maybe you need to step back and explore more before making a decision. If you can’t even imagine what the day-to-day of being a lawyer means except whatever you’ve seen on Law & Order or Suits, then DEFINITELY step back and do more research. I’ve had many law students who look at me and answer my question: “how is school going?” with:

“it could be worse.”

Yikes! Granted, I don’t blame them – I’ve heard that law school itself can be very detrimental to mental health – I’ve had a couple friends warn me to not drink too much as they’ve seen many colleagues grow dependent on drinking for relaxation, coping with stress etc. Should this scare you or me away? Not necessarily! But that’s exactly why “visualizing” both the good and the bad of a profession will help you determine if it is truly the path for you – specifically focusing on overcoming the “bad” can also help profoundly.

If you don’t believe me on the power of visualization, check out “The Extraordinary Power of Visualizing Success” by Matt Mayberry, CEO of Matt Mayberry Enterprises.

Finally, Take Action!

So, those are the three main things that I’ve done and continue to do while preparing for law school! They helped immensely with my discernment over whether this path is for me. Although I am understandably nervous about starting school, I’m more excited than nervous even though it is extremely challenging, time-consuming, and mentally/emotionally taxing. If you’ve done these three things and nerves are still keeping you from pursuing a career or a dream that all-in-all feels like your next best step, here’s your sign to pursue it. Most people often don’t succeed or get the life they want simply because they refuse to take action. The steps above will get you nowhere if you don’t ultimately make the decision to try.

“The steps above will get you nowhere if you don’t ultimately make the decision to try.”

Actionable Steps:

  1. Talk to people you trust and those who have experience with what you’re setting out to do. Learn from them: listen, ask questions, take notes, and reflect on what they’re sharing with you – the good and the bad.
  2. Research as much as you can about your interests, create a full picture of the industry or career you want. You should be able to walk away knowing what you need to do to achieve it, the different paths to getting there, and to be able to explain to others what it is you want to do.
  3. Visualize yourself doing what it is you want to do – visualize success as well as failure, can you see yourself overcoming failure? Persisting with the career or idea in spite of adversity? If not, then perhaps you need to step back and take more time to research, shadow, and reflect before moving forward.
  4. Take action – make a decision!

Who is the Joyful Servant?

“How about the Joyful Servant?”

My good friend, Faro Palazzolo, recommended the title to me a little over two months ago while I was in the midst of considering, yet again, starting a blog. I have about two to three different blogging attempts under my belt and a handful of unfinished, unrealized ideas swirling around in my brain or left printed on my desk. Yet, this name stuck with me. In fact, it kept knocking at my brain much like the outdated sales representative still making door-to-door visits in 2021.

Originally, I had toyed with the name “The Faithful Servant” to honor the last words of Saint Thomas More, Henry VIII’s advisor before his execution for not converting and pledging allegiance to the King’s new religion: 

“I die the King’s faithful servant, but God’s first.” 

– Saint Thomas More

I get chills every time I hear or read those words. While I cringe at the thought of considering myself God’s faithful servant since I so often fall short of such a powerful title, I do aspire to it. Plus, I have found friendship with Saint Thomas More while working towards law school this past year and his example is one that often inspires me. On the other hand, I have also had a loving devotion to Saint Phillip Neri, who was and is known for being joyful. He was a man known for walking barefoot through the streets of Rome, singing and laughing – and teaching others, especially homeless or orphaned children, how to sing and laugh. A legend often attributed to his life was that he would go to confession only to have his confessor merrily shout, “Allegramente! Allegramente!”

“Joyfully! Joyfully!”

Yet, ironically, joy does not come easily to me. I am very much an “Eeyore” on the outset but rest assured, my inner-self aspires to be someone much like Saint Philip Neri. When I walk into a room, I want people to feel comfortable, safe, and…well, joyful. I know what it is like to sit in grief and loneliness, despair and depression. It is not fun. It is dark, and even scary at times. All the more reason that I seek to make people feel joy and hope because if I knew for a second someone has felt what I have, then my heart immediately breaks for them. But there is always light in the darkness even if that means we have to spark it. 

So, here we are. The Joyful Servant published and reared to go – but where? In the past, I had fallen victim to being too niche in my blogs and in other areas too broad, experiences leaving me with social media whiplash trying to determine what my “brand” is. A statement I shudder at but nonetheless must consider. My brand is me. So that is what you will find here. 

More importantly, joy is a virtue that can be worked towards. It is not something that necessarily comes easily to all people and when it does, it is often pockmarked and scarred with the realities of life: loss, hardship, suffering. And even with those wounds, joy can still be felt. Above all else, that is what I want to express in every word, paragraph, and period. 

For transparency’s sake, my life right now looks like someone gearing up for law school this Fall. I have spent the last, almost-two-years working as a leasing agent for some apartments. I write, read, and bake in my spare time while also constantly going on quests to find ways to live more intentionally. That will be a word you will hear very often from me but I hope in a way that brings you tangible action items so that you can live intentionally too. To me that means: living unabashedly who you are but in a way that accounts for the impact you have on the people and things around you. 

“Living intentionally means living unabashedly who you are but in a way that accounts for the impact you have on the people and things around you. 

Courage coupled with compassion, if you will. 

At the end of the day, all of us are Joyful Servants in the way that we choose to serve our personality, skills, and existence to this world. We very much have control over this even if at times it seems to be at the mercy of external circumstances.

Essentially, if you are looking for someone to both celebrate and commiserate with about the adventures of life or ways to infuse your existence with more joy and hope much like a soft-bag of tea fills a cup of hot water, this is the place for you. All are welcome because all are in need of a little joy. My main concern is that whether you are a rising law student like me looking for advice or experiences to learn from, a child of God looking for companionship on our journey to Sainthood, or just another average Joe who wants to read something lighthearted and intentional for once in this vacuum of snarky, cynical bad-news then, welcome!

Oh, and if you don’t mind or feel inclined to, say a little “hello!” and introduce yourself in the comments below. The internet is a lot less cold and nefarious when we fill it with kindness and connection – consider this your first tip for living more intentionally. Thank you for reading and being here, your time is appreciated more than you’ll know.

Allegramente, 

KimberMarie

Courage coupled with compassion, if you will.