MMXV

“My new more realistic goals include getting a solid double axel, finding more friends,
losing weight, and in the future hopefully getting a business degree,
become a wedding coordinator and furthermore be in the wedding….the bride!

–Jana 17 years old, December 31, 2005

A decade later, only one of those things happened.
Ever since I was a teenager I take time on the last day of the year to reflect and plan.
I never got a solid double axel; I weigh more now than I did when I was 17; I didn’t go to business school; I’m not interested in wedding planning; and I’m not married!

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 8.50.26 AMTo this day I’m incredibly disappointed that I never got my double axel consistently. However, I look back with a new appreciation for how good I was at skating even without a sweet jump like that.

I was so skinny when I was in high school. I spent so much time worrying about how much I ate and what I weighed. It was oppressive. I’m thankful that I have a healthy attitude towards my body today.

Graduating from journalism school opened up an imaginarium of possibilities for me. Who knows what would have happened if I had majored in business, but I don’t really care!

Wedding planning didn’t work out, but I have a new opportunity that is the perfect marriage of my love of fairytales, weddings and writing. I can’t wait to share more about it with you!

I’m not married but I am so thankful for my relationship with James. I am blown away by all that I’ve learned about myself as I’ve learned how to love him better every day.

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Today I do have so many more incredible friends than I could ever have hoped for when I was seventeen. I’ve kept up a couple friendships over the last 10 years. Those relationships are so precious to me. It is sad how difficult it is to stay in touch with people, both near and far. Other friendships have developed in the last few years! I’m so thankful for the opportunity to have so many inspiring, beautiful people in my life.

“Bet my life on it
Made my bed, gonna lie on it
Made up my mind that I won’t get just by or get lost in it
I won’t listen to your rumors, I won’t listen to your doubts…
I want it all.”
Cam “Want It All”

My favorite album of the year “Untamed” plays through the bluetooth speaker on the counter. Christmas lights line my bedroom door and cast a cheerful glow in my new apartment. My lifelong dream of living in downtown Denver came true this year. I said goodbye to my roommates, packed my little sister’s blue truck, and drove down to the city.

Saying that ‘my dream came true’ is misleading. That phrase might lead you to believe that I was lucky and I had a great opportunity open up. Granted, I was very lucky, but I put in the effort to make it happen. I found a super affordable one-bedroom apartment in the most ideal neighborhood I could have dreamed of. Denver is one of the hottest, craziest housing markets in the country. Finding the situation I’m in should have been impossible. It only happened because I made my mind up and then I searched tirelessly. I weighed hundreds of different options, and then made the impossible happen.uptown
Lesson: decide what you want, set your budget and go. You have this thing that no one before in the history of humanity has ever had, the Internet. Make the most of it.

This year at work there was more than one Monday that I showed up a minute or two late with a sour attitude. I’m sure there were also a couple times that I jetted out the door at 4:59:38 on Friday to get the weekend started.
But something happed to me this year. I became more responsible. Seems like something that should happen on a birthday, or when you graduate from college or some special date like that. My change happed so gradually; it wasn’t until I woke up for work at 6:45 on a Tuesday morning in October with an excited attitude for work that I realized I had changed. Or maybe it was one random summer Thursday night when I stayed an hour late to get something done, without having to be asked or told, that I realized something in me had changed. That sense of dread walking up the red brick steps to work and that feeling of loathing upon seeing my grey swivel chair was gone. It has been replaced by a sense of ownership.
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Nothing materially changed in my situation to bring about this change. I’m not even sure what to attribute it to. Maybe maturity is just an age thing finally catching up to me, or maybe I have gained it from the wisdom I have gleaned form the 600 plus hours of podcast listening I logged on Stitcher this year. All I know is that I’m excited to see where my new attitude is going to take in 2016. Even if I don’t make any huge new accomplishments, this attitude will make whatever I do and wherever I go a heck of a lot more fun.

I’m not going to review every detail of this year. You’ve seen my Facebook, kids. Things happened. I capture so many great moments and share them on the interwebs. I’ve spent a lot of this year recognizing that so many of the best moments cannot be ‘hearted’, and some of the most liked moments were just manufactured for the camera.

Two non-Instagrammed 2015 moments especially give me pause.

There is one trip I took that is incredibly special to me.
It was a secret. I booked my ticket. I packed my backpack hours before going to the airport at midnight on Friday and then flew to the future all by myself.

The first revenue-generating passenger jet, United Airlines flight 1474, arrives at Denver International Airport from Colorado Springs, Colo., early Feb. 28, 1995, the first day of operations at the new airport. The airport that was supposed to keep America's flights on time in any kind of weather failed the test during its first blizzard late Sunday night Oct. 22, 1995. A storm that dumped a half-foot of snow crippled the new Denver International Airport. Water leaked through the tower roof andfell on computer equipment. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

I will always remember the feeling of the humid air sticking to my skin while standing on the curb of my destination airport terminal. It was 5:34 Saturday morning. I had slept for one hour on my redeye cross-country flight and my Uber was pulling up to take me to the beach.
The next 36 hours were illusory. I used my backpack as a pillow to sleep on the beach, rode my rental bike 2 miles in the driving rain to return it in time and I paid more for a drink at a bar than I paid for my entire flight.

When, in the history of ever, could a girl like me get on an airplane after work on Friday and end up in a different world the next morning?

I learned two things about travel on this trip:

  1. Travel is so much easier to do than we make it. It is cheap, it is fast and it is simple. If you want to go, stop saying no. Every time a new excuse pops into your head as to why you can’t or shouldn’t CATCH IT and put it in the trash. Turn your no’s into yes’s. Its 100% up to you. It has nothing to do with how much time, money or responsibility you have. If you really want something you will find a way to make it happen. Stop letting yourself off so easy.
  2. Traveling is not about the new places you get to see. It is about the way it changes your soul. This is something that I cannot write about. It is inexplicable. If you’ve experienced this, you’re nodding your head right now in understanding. If you haven’t, see point number one.

I also had a couple close calls this year.
The other morning I was driving to work and hit some black ice while getting on the interstate. I wasn’t texting, driving too fast or being irresponsible in any way. There is no reason I should have done a 180 turn like that. Even more sobering, there is no reason that the truck behind me didn’t smack into the back of my car. The moment your car is sliding towards a wall and there’s nothing you can do is petrifying. You don’t have time to think about praying and asking God to save you from certain catastrophe. I’m waiting for the crunch of metal when my car slows to a stop and the oncoming traffic I’m now facing has stopped. There is nothing you can say to convince me that God is not always looking out for me.

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I leave this year of MMXV:

Thankful for my family. 
Amazed by my friends.
Overwhelmed by God’s provision.
Excited for the next…

Top 5 – Instagram

@MimiIkonn
@MimiIkonn

If you read my last post about wasting time on your smart phone you might wonder why today I’m writing about Instagram, one of the top time-wasting apps.
If you enjoy spending time on your phone cruising certain apps, you don’t have to eliminate it! Just be more conscious about what you’re looking at and why.
Instagram is one of my favorite apps to tap when I have a down moment during the day. On it I find beauty, encouragement and inspiration for my life. Making sure that I’m not wasting my time looking at pictures that I don’t care about is really important to me, so here’s a list of my favorite accounts. I’m always looking for new ‘grammers’ to follow so let me know your favorites in the comment section!

Top 5 Instagram-ers:
@SheReadsTruth – devotional / inspirational / Bible verses
@MimiIkonn –  style / fashion / travel
@LesleyAnneMurphy – travel / photography / inspiration
@HeyHails – photography / family
@BeautifulDestinations – travel / photography

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 9.22.57 AM@SheReadsTruth is the Instagram account for the devotional website shereadstruth.com. This is such a wonderful resource that I found because of a long lost acquaintance. That’s something I love about social media: connecting with people from my past! I somehow reconnected with a girl, Ashley (@newdiolsen), from my figure skating childhood on Instagram. Ashley re-posts @shereadstruth photos all the time which I finally checked out one day. It’s a treasure of beautifully crafted images with sweet little captions. She Reads Truth is not just an Instagram with great photos. They have an app, a devotional book, and a daily devotional reading plan geared toward women. Every little gem they post is always a encouragement and a reminder for me to take time out for some Bible reading and prayer.

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 9.27.11 AM@MimiIkonn is super fun. All of her posts are a visual treat. Each photo is full of light, life and color. She posts great outfit ideas, fresh and healthy snacks and great office décor concepts. Whether she’s working in her London office or traveling the world, she always brightens up my Instagram feed. Part of why I find her work inspiring is because I know her incredible entrepreneurial story. She and husband Alex started Luxy Hair, hair extension company, years ago and have worked hard to grow it into the successful business it is today! Seeing someone work hard and achieve their dreams gives me the encouragement to pursue my own.

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Thailand

@LesleyAnnMurphy is a world-renowned traveller. You never know what part of the world her next post is going to come from but each and every picture is flawless. I initially found her because she was a contestant on ABC’s the Bachelor. She never posts a poor quality photo. Its a great reminder to me to do everything well. There is never a good reason to do things poorly, even if its just posting grainy, out of focus picture. Seeing all of the amazing places Les travels to excites me to save money when I can and plan my next trip to see the world for myself!


Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 9.34.32 AM@heyhails happens to be my cousin’s lovely wife so I am definitely biased to like her Instagram. The daily pictures of her and my cousin’s sweet family of two little boys never get old. Having ridiculously cute kids helps, but her mastery of light is her true super-power. The great angles, expressions and moods that she catches with her camera offer a glimpse into the human soul. The cute, no-nonsense comments she Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 9.35.44 AMadds enhance your understanding of what’s really going on in the picture but more importantly also offer some real insight into the struggles of being a mother today. This is a great time to mention that when optimizing or cleansing your social media you don’t have to only follow the most popular Instagram-ers. Sometimes your own family and friends are the most creative and insightful. You should always follow family and friends that are close to your heart.

 

 

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Mcway Falls

@beautifuldestinations is a top Instagram staple for me. They are one of the most prolific travel Instagrams with over 4 million followers. Sometimes their photos feel a little over-produced and commercial, but I stick with them because of the variety of places they highlight every day. Whether its Uttar Pradesh, India, Albuquerque, New Mexico or Mont Saint Michele, France I’m intrigued by the crazy places in the photos. I also really appreciate the information they post in the caption about where the photo was taken and by whom. The dreams I have of seeing the world are refreshed and renewed every time I see one of their photos.

I’ve crafted my Insta-experience to give me the inspiration, encouragement and visual refreshment I desire. When I tap that brown lens on my phone screen I want to know that I’ll see something that will encourage, inspire and uplift my spirits.
Don’t be afraid to un-follow someone whose not adding to the experience you want to have and always search for new posters that can inspire and teach you about something you never knew!

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Oh and hey, follow me!!! @janakates_ (don’t forget that dang underscore at the end! Whoever stole @janakates, why did you take it if you’re not going to do anything with it… )

crazy girl

Crazy girl, don’t you know that I love you…
My mind is so full of wild memories with you. Singing our hearts out in the truck, skating our souls out in ice skating practice, crying at our losses and laughing about the good times until it hurts. Who knew what a beautiful, wild life we’d have? When I see you today and I’m amazed by the person you’ve become, so caring and loving.

2014-05-18 18.43.47The next thing I think of is: I’m sorry I haven’t always been there for you. I’ve been silly and distracted. Seeing that now makes me so sad!

Its funny how life changes, unexpectedly and all at once and it leaves you sitting on the cold hard floor looking around wondering where you are and how you got there.

When I found myself there I looked up and Jesus was smiling, telling me to get up and that everything would be okay. As He helped me up from my puddle of tears and brokenness; He wiped my eyes and pointed at the setting sun.

There it was, setting on a chapter in my life with flames of orange, pink, and yellow that licked the rugged Rocky Mountains and drew silver linings around the deep blue clouds above. A part of my life had ended and I smiled as I watched the vibrant colors fade to purple and then deep blue and finally gray. That part of my story was filled with pages of laughter, tears, achievements and failures.

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One of the most glaring failures was my neglect of you little sister. Who was there, in the depths of my despair…yep, it was lil K-ditty.

When you’re going through life at the speed of sound and everything is crazy and normal sometimes the most important people in your life become like the living room furniture. You walk right by them and you don’t even see them. You sit on them, spill things on them and after a while they get messy and start falling apart.

Just like a dilapidated house falls apart, each nail becoming rusty and every little layer of dust piling upon itself, relationships don’t fall apart suddenly.

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Society hands us a cell phone smarter than the supercomputers that got us to the moon; gives us 300 channels to watch on tv; tells us to climb ladders to build our careers; take extravagant vacations; nurture our perfect little families; party it up with our fabulous friends and then post every glorious moment on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for the world to admire and envy.

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But lets not transfer the blame to where it doesn’t belong. Society is a problem, yes, but who lives in that society? What people have built this society…? Something bigger and much closer to home is at the root of all of these shenanigans…

We are often so selfish that we can’t even see past our Insta-filtered noses to realize that WE are our own biggest problem. I can sit here for hours and blame my friends, my ex, my job, my church, my fitness routine …my…my… for the reason I neglected one of the people that means the most to me.

It was my fault. My problem.

Jesus is always saving me from myself. Sometimes it takes drastic measures for Him to get my self-absorbed attention, but He always knows what He needs to do. I believe that every good and perfect thing comes from above, and that God is not capable of doing bad things.

It takes some heavenly perspective sometimes to see that what He is doing is ultimately for the good and sometimes He is gracious enough to show us what He’s doing. I’m so thankful that He cared enough to wake me up to show me what I have and what I was looking right past.

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So here’s to making more memories, learning from the past and laughing about every crazy thing that happens to us. Happy Birthday little sister! I love you so much and for all the glorious years to come!