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The Comparison Game

Lana Hawk

"Comparison is the thief of joy."

Theodore Roosevelt

It is easy to read this quote from Theodore Roosevelt and nod your head in agreement. You see it, you understand it, but what do you do to combat the issue? As a kid I would often compare myself to others. I would look at them and then look at what I was wearing or doing and question myself. I would question everything from what I was wearing to the depth of my friendships. If my life didn't look like others, was I doing it right? Should I be doing something different? Looking back, it all seems silly.  But the truth is, even as an adult, comparison is a struggle. In the age of social media, it has become even harder to live a life free from the comparison game. 

One glance through social media and it is easy to see the issues it creates. Without intending to, my feed quickly became overrun with stores and brands, style bloggers, and people I didn't even know all trying to "sell" me something. My feed quickly filled up with all the clothes I have to have, trips I should take, and the picture perfect family I should strive to create. Every other photo was someone talking about a sale or their "must-have" sweater of the season. Instead of a feed full of people I know, it became a beacon of consumerism. Major problem.

Over the years, I have intentionally slowed my shopping habits and focused on a more intentional and focused wardrobe. This year it has become one of my goals for 2017. I have moved towards supporting sustainable/ethical businesses and clothing. I want to support small businesses who work to make the world a better place, not just a large corporation of mass produced products. Adam and I have spent time living life the way we believe works best for us. We  wanted to focus on growing a life together, doing the things we love. We have lived smaller to be able to see the world. We moved to Denver to start a life with the mountains in our backyard. I love the life I have. it isn't perfect, but it is pretty darn awesome. I don't doubt that until I spend too much scrolling through social media. I see new houses, adorable families, endless new outfits and shoes, bloggers that write a bunch of BS with thousands of followers. It is ridiculous to get caught up in it, but I do. I can tell myself it isn't an issue, but at the end of the day old Teddy is right. I start to question what we are doing. Crazy right? You may be looking at my blog or social media and wishing you could have what I have for a day. The thing with comparison is it doesn't have an end. It doesn't only work one way. No matter what our life looks like, we easily get swept away in wanting what we don't have. So how do we stop the cycle? How do we slow down enough to appreciate what we have and not constantly wish for something different?

I don't have the answer. I think we all have to find what works for us, but for me I found that social media was a struggle. Now, the truth is I love instagram. I do. It's full of pretty pictures and inspiration. I'm a visual person who loves stories. So instagram is my jam. So I didn't get rid of it completely, but I did clean house. I went through my feed and started unfollowing anyone I found to be a trigger for me. The endless fashion bloggers, stores and brands, people I didn't know, etc. I don't need nor want hair extensions, fake lashes, filled in brows, a daily trip to Nordstrom, or a feed full of "the best sweater ever." That works for people. Nothing against what they are doing, creating and curating. It's just not for me. So instead of feeding discontentment, I am working hard to create a social media space that is inspiring, encouraging, authentic, and creative. I don't need to see another article of the "6 [fill in the blank] Items You Never Knew You Needed". I would much rather continue not knowing. 

Books to encourage you in your pursuit of a more focused, minimalist life:

  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up - Marie Kondo
  • Simple Matters - Erin Boyle
  • Chasing Slow - Erin Loechner

Travel Collection

Lana Hawk

As you can probably tell, I love taking pictures. Pictures of people, places, buildings, details, you name it. When we travel, I am constantly 10 steps behind with camera in hand. Adam already knows that inevitably I will disappear for a second before catching up with him. I love to soak up the details of a place and document the little things that make new cities, countries, and people unique and special. The doorknobs, the windows, the cobblestone streets, the rooflines, flowers, street views, all of it. I can't get enough. But of course, you probably already know that just be looking over the website a bit. We recently bought a house and I can't wait to choose images to fill our walls and shelves. Adam and I both want our house to be full of our art. Art we created, experienced, and that is meaningful. I love looking at images of trips and people and remembering those moments. And I want to share that with you.

With a few big years of travel under my belt, I have created quite the collection of travel photos. For awhile, I have wanted to offer these to others, to share the love I have for travel and new places. Finally, that is happening! I have created a collection of my photos on Pixieset to share with you and offer to you in print or digital form. I want to help you fell your home with images that let you dream and take you away from reality, even just for a second. To the beaches not eh coast of Italy to the streets of Bruges. So, click on the link below to view the collection. If you see something you like, you have the option to buy the digital or print copy and use it to fill your home with faraway places. And don't forget to keep checking back. We have more trips on the horizon and I am constantly adding more! So, take a look and let me know what you think. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or have a request of sorts (an image in black and white, etc.).


Unfulfilled Potential

Lana Hawk

Adam and I watched The Circle last night. It is based off a dystopian novel by Dave Eggers exploring the line of privacy in the digital age. We love movies, especially one starring Emma Watson AND Tom Hanks, so naturally we chose to go see it. It is an interesting and thought-provoking story, but makes for a bit of a slow movie. Despite the lack of action, a few things stuck with me from the movie with the biggest being a line from Emma Watson's interview at The Circle. In a "fire round" of questions, she is asked what her biggest fear is. Her response? Unfulfilled potential. That struck me as a powerful realization of a fear I constantly deal with in my own life. Unfulfilled potential. I know I am afraid of tangible things like tornadoes, but unfulfilled potential is a big one. A deep one. One that carries through into multiple layers of my life and maybe yours too. As I continue to navigate this year of space to learn, explore, and pursue I feel like I am also living in the tension of worrying about NOT getting it. Not fulfilling my potential. At the end of it all, I want to know that my dreams, art, passions, talents, and purpose were fulfilled, created, utilized. I can't imagine turning around in 20 years and feeling like I missed it. That I had something inside of me waiting and pushing to get out, yet it never did. Unfulfilled potential deprives me of the joy of following my passions and sharing them with the world. We all are unique, so to live a life of unfulfilled potential is depriving the world of something great and needed and necessary. Sure, someone else may be able to do something similar, but I am the only me, just as you are the only you. 

Recently, Adam and I bought a house. After our 6 months as nomads, it is so nice being able to come home to our own space and enjoy life at our pace. With the house, came a beautiful garden and backyard. I'm talking landscaping to the max complete with a pear tree, honeysuckle, tulips, roses, a lilac bush, and Irises. Recently, the tulips faded away and the irises began to make an appearance. Two Irises in particular sprouted a bit and the cutest buds showed up. Now, I've never had my own garden so the idea of having beautiful flowers to look at it and admire is pretty exciting. So I anxiously awaited the first Iris blooms. Unfortunately, in true Colorado fashion, April 29 brought a late spring snowstorm dumping 10 inches of heavy, wet snow on our spring garden. 10 inches! In April! Lucky for me and our garden, 24 hours later the snow was gone leaving the green of spring and all of our lovely plants intact. Well all except those Irises. The two Irises, ready to bloom, were destroyed. Buried under the weight of the snow, the stems of the buds snapped leaving the buds left with no chance of blooming. Unfulfilled potential. What could have been. Without the weight of the snow, the weight of the world, those little buds would have sprouted the first Iris blooms of the year. That was the first thing I thought of when I heard "unfulfilled potential". A flower, ready to bloom, never having a chance. As I come up on a year of leaving teaching, I want to continue to lean into the tension and reach my potential, whatever that may be! 

The War of Art

Lana Hawk

Adam is currently set to start an intense 4-week course called the altMBA from Seth Godin. We are both big fans of Seth Godin and his view of the world. We are also both in a place of trying to discover how we can use our gifts to offer something unique and different to the world. Although I am not formally taking the altMBA, I have the added benefit of learning alongside him through the process. The easiest way to learn alongside is to read alongside. Adam recently received all of his books for the upcoming month, and we both started with The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. The book is a quick, easy read, but eye-opening from the start. I have been out of teaching for almost a year now. The intent of the time was to stretch myself to start something new, learn more about myself, and give us space to travel. The hardest part in that list is definitely the STARTING something new. It is terrifying to go out on a limb, put myself out there, and start something completely new. I have felt that and I have known that from the beginning, but it is hard to pinpoint the why. Steven Pressfield defines the why and gives language to how to deal with it all. 

Pressfield talks a lot about Resistance. The dreaded laundry list of things that keeps us from creating, working, building, engaging, etc. Resistance can come in a lot of forms, but ultimately, it is anything blocking us from doing the hard work and sitting down to our blank screen, page, canvas, or whatever and starting. I have all the time in the world to build and create, yet I often waste away the day doing anything but those things. I write blogs when I have fun trips to talk about, but when it becomes a bit more challenging and less straight forward, I freeze. I stop. I don't engage and find every excuse to do anything but that. Coffee with a friend, baking a new treat, social media scrolling, errands, Gilmore Girls. Anything, but sitting down and allowing myself space to brainstorm and write. Resistance often stems from fear of the unknown. The unknown for me is what the result is going to be. What are people going to think? Are they even going to read, view, like, care? I am a people pleaser down to my core and always have been. When I am performing in the classroom as a student or teacher or in the pool as a swimmer, it works. When I am facing a new, unknown pursuit, it doesn't work so well. I get so caught up in wanting to know everything before starting, I never start. So that is problem number one.

The second problem comes in my hierarchical view of my art and audience. I care so much about what other people think or how they are going to respond, I don't create from what I think is important or necessary. I often "superficially" create to fit what I "think" everyone wants to read or see or hear. Yes, listening to an audience or customer is important, but I am never going to get anywhere changing who I am or what I want to create based off what I think people want from me because THAT ISN'T ME. I play the comparison game and see how others post, start, write, engage and I think I should replicate that. I watch videos and seminars and read books about it, but in the end, I need to be me. I may fail over and over, but I need to stop caring about other people and comparing myself to them because I am uniquely me. I have a mind and a perspective that no one else has. We may have similarities in taste, opinions, and writing style, but there is no other Lana. So until I stop looking to everyone else to show me what to be and what to do, I will only be a hack. Someone trying to be something I am not in a world that needs something new, not a knock-off version of something already there.

So, it will be a struggle. I will continue to leave my screen blank on some days and fail to fight Resistance, but I will keep pushing. I will push to be bold and shut down the comparison game so that I can be uniquely me.

**Picture taken St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy.


Facing the Challenge and Joining the Collective

Lana Hawk

A month or so ago, while exploring "women in business" conferences, I stumbled across The Yellow Collective. The Yellow Collective is a group of female entrepreneurs looking to use their gifts to offer something unique to the world. These women are spread all over the US and are a part of a conversation about how to face the challenges of starting your own businesses. Every quarter is a new theme complete with online materials, digital workbooks, monthly meet-ups and internet chats, and a care package of inspiration. When I stumbled across this, it sounded like a group of women I wanted to get to know. To learn from and grow with. So yesterday I JOINED!

So here is a bit of back story for some of you. Last spring, I "retired" from teaching to pursue my own thing (among a longer list of other reasons). Fast forward to now and I have struggled to start. To push through the fear of failure and jump into something. I have a long list of things I enjoy doing and random ideas for businesses or projects, but I get caught up in the superfluous details that in the end don't mean much. I ask a hundred questions and want to learn everything I can about a subject before diving in, instead of taking a leap into the unknown. A big part of that problem lies in my fear of failure and the constant comparison game. After the last 8 months of struggle, I decided I needed to start meeting likeminded people and putting myself out there as an entrepreneur. I want to start something and use my gifts to work for myself. So I attended a conference in Austin earlier this month called the BE Conference. A conference for female entrepreneurs looking to network and learn from other entrepreneurs. It was a great way for me to learn to network, meet other women doing amazing things, and learn from some of the best business women out there. Well worth the trip to Austin. The search for that conference, also led me to The Yellow Collective.

So post-conference comes the challenge of the everyday (see my post on Inspiration here). How can I continue to stretch myself in that way here in Denver? How can I network and engage in the conversation while living the day-to-day here at home. Enter The Yellow Collective. They offer the resources to continue learning, the conversations to engage your mind and spirit in the struggle, and monthly meet-ups among local women to help build a local community. The perfect blend of learning, stretching, networking, and growing. They open membership each quarter so if you want to join in on the fun, you have until tomorrow (March 31) to join! I will keep you updated on my thoughts after my first month or so jumping in with other awesome ladies!

Also, stay tuned for a fun new project coming soon! I'm bringing a little more of my travels direct to you.

**Picture taken in Whistler, Canada, July 2016

Finding Inspiration in the Everyday

Lana Hawk

It is no secret I love to travel, particularly to Europe. One of the main reasons I love to travel is the inspiration that comes from experiencing a new and different place. Walk through the streets of a European city or town and try to NOT be inspired. Everywhere you look and turn there is something new to see, experience, smell, hear. Our sabbatical in Florence meant tons of inspiration from our daily strolls around the city. The old streets bustling with people going about their normal lives was so new and different to us, it was easy to be inspired. Inspired to take pictures, write, read, dream, and the list goes on. Being inspired when you break from routine in a new place is easy. Finding inspiration in the everyday? Not so much.

My current struggle is finding inspiration in my everyday existence in a city I have come to know well. The same streets, same drive to town, same running route, and same old dinner routine. How  can I get that European jolt of inspiration without flying halfway across the world? This has been a struggle of mine for sometime. Blogs come easily when there are fun exciting things to write about and share. Pretty pictures paired with anecdotes and observations. So as I continue to struggle through this little slump or funk, here are some of my ideas to try and get my creative juices pumping.

  • Take a walk 
  • Find a new fun recipe to try
  • Run somewhere new
  • Sit outside and read
  • Find and listen to a new podcast 
  • Just sit down and write about anything
  • Go to the mountains or walk where I can see them
  • Watch a TedTalk
  • Draw, doodle, sketch
  • Take a walk with my camera
  • Visit somewhere new in Denver
  • Create something, anything
  • Go to an art museum

Now the hard part, actually leaning into the above list. 

A Day at Disney

Lana Hawk

Disney. My memories of Disney are a bit fuzzy. It was over 20 years ago and time can cause a bit of a memory predicament. I remember characters and a handful of rides. I remember the afternoon rainstorms and the parades. I also remember our hotel, the Wilderness Lodge, and the pool. It was pretty legit. I bought a Simba stuffed animal and was pretty excited about it. Vague memories, but good ones for sure. Adam went to DisneyLand way back as well and his memory is equally as fuzzy. So when we booked our trip to Florida, we decided to make Orlando a priority and hit up Disney for a day. When it came time to pick which Disney park we visited, we let nostalgia win out and went for the Magic Kingdom. A close second was Epcot, but we didn't want to spend a bunch of money on food and drinks to get the real flavor of the place!

So Magic Kingdom. Let me just say, I loved it. I love theme/amusement parks. I love rides and people dressed up. I love feeling like a kid and walking around the perfectly planned/themed buildings and restaurants. I love it. Let's just say Adam wasn't AS enthusiastic as me, but he still enjoyed himself. We went on a Monday in February hoping for shorter lines and smaller crowds. There were still lots of people there, but we strategized our rides and ended up never waiting more than 30 minutes for any attraction. We hit most of the major rides including Space Mountain, It's a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter Pan, The Haunted Mansion, Teacups, Dumbo, Buzz Lightyear, etc. Unfortunately because of time and lines, we missed Splash Mountain and the Seven Dwarves ride. Oh well! We ended our day with dinner at the Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen. Food was really good and not to over priced. It was a fund day reliving a bit of our childhood and being kids again at Disney. The nostalgia of Magic Kingdom won the day and we loved seeing old classics like Swiss Family Robinson Tree House (a favorite movie as a kid). Thank you Johnson County Public Library for the teaching me all about classic Disney movies. We left before the fireworks to beat the crowds and caught a glimpse of them as we were driving away. Not bad for a Monday!

Here are a couple tips we learned from our day at Disney:

  1. Make a Dinner Reservation: I waited until a bit late to do this, but luckily reservations were still available. I would have loved to go to the Be Our Guest restaurant because the inside looks amazing, but the Jungle Canteen was a bit more reasonably priced and reservations were available. Why wait for a table when you can plan a little ahead and get right in? No brainer. Do this a bit further in advance if you want the super specialty restaurants.
  2. Bring Lunch and Snacks with You: I am so glad we did this. We grabbed peanut butter and honey from the Hampton and bought a loaf of bread from Walgreens. We packed up a few sandwiches and LaraBars and we were good to go. There are water fountains around too, so bring a water bottle. It saves time and money when you aren't constantly searching for somewhere decent to eat that doesn't cost a fortune. 
  3. Use Fast Passes Wisely: This was new to me. I only discovered this right before we went to the park. So, we didn't book ours in advance. Rookie mistake. Basically you get three fast passes to use in the park on any rides/attractions where spots are available. You get to schedule a time and skip the line, real VIP style. What we didn't know is that once you use your three, you can sign up for more if they are available. So if you book in advance, choose your fast passes for morning slots and once you use them, go sign up for more if they are available. Way to go Disney! 
  4. Take Time to Wander: We weren't all about hitting up all the attractions and running around like crazy people, that's not fun. We loved just walking through Disney and soaking in the childhood memories. We wandered through gift stores with no intent of buying anything, although I almost bought a coffee mug of Mickey and a million things for our nieces. Either way, we loved the kiddie/nostalgic rides and just spending the day there. No need to rush off and tackle a mile long to-do list because it sort of sucks the joy out of the happiest place on Earth, you know?

Obviously, Disney with kids would look drastically different. Trust me, we saw it all. I'm just thankful we weren't one of the ones looking for stroller parking and pushing around a passed out or worse, tantrum-throwing child. We will take our peaceful day at Disney and enjoy it!

What Disney suggestions do you have? I know there are some experts out there.

La Sagrada Familia

Lana Hawk

I have this thing with old churches in Europe. I love them. I love going in and wandering through them. Soaking in the vast ceilings and ornate interiors. They are beautiful and the sheer size of them is amazing. I mean how in the world were these things built so long ago? The trouble is, in a a lot of ways, they all start to look the same. You have the Gothic churches with their distinct ceilings, the Baroque churches with their ornate detailing, and everything else in between. I love them all, but they tend to run together once you've seen a few dozen of them. So if you are sick of the same old churches, there is one that blows them all out of the water.

La Sagrada Familia. Barcelona. GO!

One of our top priorities in Barcelona was La Sagrada Familia. To be honest, before planning our trip, I knew very little about the history of the church and Antoni Gaudi, the architect. I had heard of both and vaguely remember a 60 Minutes episode highlighting the long struggle to complete Gaudi's vision, but that was it. It didn't take long to learn a bit about La Sagrada Familia and for it to top our list for our time in Barcelona. If you have seen any pictures or read any reviews of this place, they are all true and also don't even tell the half of it. This place is one of the most amazing places I have ever experienced. And yes, it's an experience. It's huge yes, but more than that is every last detail has a purpose. The exterior reflects the birth, death, life, and glory of Jesus. We only really saw the birth and death side and that was enough. The entrance was on the side illustrating the birth of Jesus. It is the only side completed under Gaudi and some of that was even commissioned later. Either way, it is distinctly Gaudi. There is so much to look at it is nearly impossible to see it all. The opposite side takes you through the finally days of Jesus' life in detailed scenes around the exterior. The massive, endless, beautiful exterior and it's only partially completed. It awaits the completion of its large, center spire. When finished the central spire, representing Jesus, will be 170 meters tall. Gaudi designed the center spire to be exactly one meter shorter than the nearby Montjuic Hill. Gaudi believed his creation should not surpass that of God's.  Accompanying the center spire will be 18 other spires. Pretty crazy and that is just the exterior.

Now for the interior. Oh the interior. Have you ever imagined what Heaven looks like? Or just sat and dreamed up the unimaginable beauty of it? La Sagrada Familia is one of the places that feels like a glimpse of Heaven. You walk in and immediately your senses are overwhelmed. The perfectly placed stained glass windows flood the church with glowing light. Like the outside, there is so much to take in and see. Ornate, spiral staircases all around the edges. Ceilings with endless detailing, gold overlay, and just enough color to draw your gaze upward. The pillars all around the nave seem to go on forever and reach towards something unseen. They resemble a forest full of tall, thin, beautiful trees. There are hints of God's creation all throughout the church. Glimpses of the natural world with a Gaudi twist. Whimsical and powerful and beautiful and awe-inspiring. We wandered through the nave listening to our audio guide just trying to comprehend what we were seeing and how any person could dream up such a beautiful imitation of the natural world. We ended up going through the nave twice as once is just not enough.

The problem is, no words or pictures even do this place justice. I rarely say anything is a MUST SEE, but if you ever have the opportunity, this is a must see. I have never, and can almost guarantee I will never, see anything like this again in my life. Big statement, but it is true. It was a vision of a genius, of a man devoted to his faith and this church. He died nearly 100 years ago, but his vision lives on. The project was privately funded in the beginning and is now funded by visitors to the church. Antoni Gaudi took over this project in 1883 and worked on it until his death in 1926, leaving only a quarter of the project complete. Since then, architects have taken on the project with the intent of finishing Gaudi's vision and completing his masterpiece. The goal is to finish the project in 2026, 100 years after his death. It is a sight to see, finished or not, I can only imagine the finished project and the lasting legacy of Antoni Gaudi.

If you find yourself in Barcelona or in Europe for that matter, make the trip because you won't regret it. Until that day, a large number of pictures to give you an idea.

Blog Changes

Lana Hawk

As I am always changing, so is this blog. As many of you know, I have been blogging awhile. I love having a space to share my thoughts and ideas. I write more for me than anything, but I love that many of you follow along! Most recently, I blogged with Greta at Old Pink House. It was our baby for a couple years, but as we both continue to grow it made sense to part ways and start our own thing. So from that came Wanderfully Simple. My continued goal and focus is to live a life that is simple but purposeful. Adam and I continue to focus on living a life of purpose and experiences over stuff. This blog and this space will be a direct reflection of our lives in pursuit of this life.

Wanderfully Simple will focus on two major topics: travel and living minimally. You will find those two categories at the top of the page with a variety of sub-topics to choose from. Travel will include travel guides, reflections on our trips, and of course, LOADS of pictures. The Minimal Living category will include a variety of topics from DIY to my reading list to general life reflections. It will also focus on my 2017 goal of streamlining my closet and making more ethical purchase choices.

Although all the categories are listed above, each post moving forward will also appear on this main page. It will be the starting point for you all. Then, if you are looking for something old or something specific, you can navigate through the categories above this post. I will continue to work on streamlining all of this and making it a bit more user friendly and visually appealing. Always a work in progress. 

As always, thanks for following along and welcome to Wanderfully Simple.