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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

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. 

Cultivating Creativity

Lana Hawk

I always find it interesting when people say things like “I’m not creative” or “That’s because you’re creative.”  Often times people view creativity as a rare gem for only a select few. I would argue that at some point in your life you had access to creativity. I mean if we want to get into semantics and precision of language (shoutout to The Giver and the hubs), creative means “relating to or involving the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.” I mean hopefully most people have an original thought/idea every once in awhile right? And artistic work can be everything from a speech to the art of conversation. Not just traditional art pieces like paintings and sculptures. So if we all had access to creativity at some point, what happened? Somewhere along the way, many people lose their imagination or have someone who discourages it from growing any further. Whatever it was, I think most (not all) of us start out as creative, playful children. We have imaginary friends, color things in crazy funky colors,  draw weird creatures that don’t actually exist, and participate in all sorts of creative play scenarios. As we grow up, we tend to focus on reality, to-do lists, and “real-life” instead of giving ourselves time and space to be creative. I continue to struggle with this, but over the last couple years I have found a few ways that work for me in creating space for creativity to cultivate and grow. Here are a few of my go-to tips on cultivating a creative life:

  1. Have a Creative Outlet: One of the things I struggled most with initially was not having a creative outlet. My life was consumed by work and coaching. I needed to give myself something outside of those things as a creative outlet. It’s almost a way to force yourself to practice creating and in turn, it will help cultivate creativity throughout your life. I started dabbling in painting, DIY projects, and eventually got back into sewing. Fast forward to the last couple years and Old Pink House along with photography have given me a great creative outlet to practice new things and cultivate and challenge my creativity. Having an outlet can be as simple as trying something new, journaling, or taking a class. Make time and have a place where creativity is encouraged.
  2.  Engage in New Ideas: This takes work and can be uncomfortable at times. If you stay inside your own head and don’t engage in new ideas around you, you will get stuck in a rut. Read books and blogs that challenge you, read an article that has a fresh perspective on an old topic, hang out with people that aren’t exactly like you, and experience new places and things to keep you fresh. It doesn’t have to be huge, but challenge your mind and you’ll be surprised at the impact that has on your ideas. This is where you gain the “original ideas” part of the definition. Feed off the thoughts of others and then create your own!
  3. Turn off the Noise: The last six months have been huge for my husband and I in this category. We haven’t had cable the last three years, but we definitely used to watch more television. It is amazing how quickly the evening disappears when you’re watching re-runs of Big Bang Theory, Jeopardy, and Family Feud. We have made a conscious effort to turn off the television, put phones away (I’m still working on this because #socialmedia), and allow time to think, create, and engage with each other. The night seems exponentially longer and more fun without the television. I can read, think about those new ideas, brainstorm projects, write, talk with my husband, and dream. In a society filled with noise and constant access to media, it can be hard to make space, but I would argue this is one of the most important things in cultivating creativity.
  4. Build a Community of Creators: Your tribe and community is huge in the process of creating. Surround yourself with dreamers and creative people. You feed off the people around you and the support of others is incredibly helpful in growing in this area. I’m lucky enough to have a husband and sister who are both creative people. I also have friends from all seasons of life who live out creativity everyday. From talented photographers to chefs on a pizza boat in the USVI (check them out here) to house-flippers and DIY extraordinaries to education innovators… the list goes on and on. Even when I’m not geographically connected to them, their work, life, and passion inspire me to continue to pursue my own. Build a tribe. Engage with a community of creators. Encourage one another.
  5. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone: Again, learning new things and trying new things helps engage the mind and body in a new way. If you work to regularly get out of your comfort zone and routine, new ideas are bound to find you. For me, on top of reading and engaging in new ideas, I love to travel and see places I’ve never seen. There is something about being completely immersed in a country where you don’t know the language and seeing history come alive that truly awakens the mind and senses. You see the world in a new way and open your mind to new ideas. If that’s not possible, try a new activity, take a class, go to a local conference, or just try some international cuisine you’ve never tried. The list is endless.
  6. Write It Down: For me, having access to Notes or Evernote on my phone or a journal is key in jotting down ideas. It is therapeutic in a way to write ideas down, brainstorm a little, and let the creative juices flow. Take time out to just sit and brainstorm those ideas you have, sketch, or process what you’ve been reading and experiencing. The reflection helps solidify what you’ve learned and brings it to life.I took my car in for tire rotation the other day and sat for an hour just brainstorming ideas from posts I wanted to write to things I wanted to create.

How do you make space for creativity? Any new tips?


Anticipating Spring

Lana Hawk

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”                               -Anne Bradstreet

Winter can really suck. We get sick of the cold, sick of the snow, sick of being cooped up inside with nowhere to go. It’s the season of seasonal depression, weight gain, and general boredom. There isn’t the same zest for life in the winter—as evidenced by every social media newsfeed from December through February. People just want it see and feel the sun.

But where would we be without winter?

Winter allows a time for reflection and a time of anticipation. Winter acts as a pause button. It feels a little like you’re living in slo-mo. It’s gives us time to take a breath, reflect on the year that has passed, and look forward in anticipation to spring. I love living in a place with four seasons, because each season has its own personality. Each season has a purpose. I love that I get to experience winter because it gets me excited about spring and flowers and sun and warmth.

Experiencing the grayness of winter allows us to better engage with the color and rejuvenation offered in spring, summer, and fall. To me, winter is a reminder of the valleys of life. The not-so-nice spots of life. Some moments and seasons of life can be challenging, but when you make it out of those seasons and find yourself in spring, the joy and hope of that new season is exponentially greater having gone through the valley. To me, this is most evident in observing trees through each season.

During a run back in the beginning of this winter season, I spent some time looking up at the trees and admiring their simple beauty. There they were, stripped bare of any leaves or flowers, stripped bare of the vibrant fall colors, and left to stand there stark and ultimately naked. Have you ever stopped to admire them in the middle of a frigid winter day? It’s like they have been stripped down to their authentic essence. Free of all the bells and whistles of flowers and leaves.  They are just there. Being. Waiting for spring. [Confession: I have a slight obsession with trees. And by slight, I more accurately mean a severe obsession.]

As I looked at the trees my mind continued to think back on the past few years; the first few years of marriage for me. Marriage is a wonderful in so many ways, but it’s also an incredibly difficult and challenging thing. Through the struggles of the last several years, we have been stripped down by challenges such as a major move or financial burdens. At times it seemed debt would never disappear, and we would never get out of our funk.


But as the earth begins to thaw, the hope of spring begins to well up. We begin to see the result of our labor spring up. Without winter, without the struggles, would the springtime be as bright? As inviting? Would we be able to see what we have or just take it all for granted?

In the movie The Giver, Jonah learns to feel and experience emotion. He receives all the happy memories, the joy, and color, but he also receives the hard, not-so-nice ones. However, with winter came spring. In the end, he wouldn’t dare go back to life in the middle or life without emotion. He wanted joy, of course. But, with joy also comes pain. He knew they were a package deal. The joy was stronger because the pain existed.

Sometimes we can’t see past the winter we find ourselves in the middle of—both the literal and figurative sense—but I encourage you to hold on to the idea and anticipation of spring. No temperature freeze or blizzard should stop the joy and life of spring. In fact, it really will make it sweeter.


Easter Reflection

Lana Hawk

Every year Easter brings a celebration. For many that’s a celebration of and with family and friends. For me, it’s that, but even more so a time of reflection on the life of Jesus. His life and resurrection carry a lot of weight, whether you claim to be a Christian or not. You cannot deny that Jesus changed the world. You cannot deny that the stories told in the New Testament paint a picture of a man who loved and loved well. I want to live like Jesus because…

…He came and lived and turned this world upside down.

…He brought color and life into a world driven by rules and the elite.

…He challenged those who proclaimed themselves experts and keepers of all knowledge.

…He hung out with and broke bread with the sick and sinners.

…He loved people no matter their race, gender, age, or economic status.

…He spent time reflecting, praying, and being in the stillness.

…He lived a life full of shedding light and questions on what people thought to be true.

…He led his disciples into thought provoking discussions and lingering questions.

…He sacrificed for the ones he loved in a big, big way by giving His life for us.

He changed the world. He changed my world. I want to live and love like Him. Today, I reflect on how I can better understand the implications of the life and resurrection of Jesus and how I can live into a life of love like Jesus.

Happy Easter.


Your Life in Jelly Beans

Lana Hawk

The other day, I showed my 8th grade students a video titled “Your Life in Jelly Beans”. This guy measured out the average life span using jelly beans to represent days. He then broke down that time into sections, removing jelly beans when they had been used up. Here was his breakdown of the average American life.

28,835 days in an average American lifetime

We spend…

    •    … 5,475 days in the first 15 years of your life

    •    … 8,477 days asleep

    •    … 1,635 days eating, prepping or cleaning up meals

    •    … 3,202 days at work

    •    … 1,099 days traveling, commuting, going somewhere

    •    … 2,676 days watching television

    •    … 1,576 days doing household activities

    •    …    564 days caring for the ones we love

    •    …    671 days doing bathroom related things

    •    …    720 days participating in community activities

    •    … 2,740 days left for everything else… how much was wasted?

Do you know what my students said when it finished? That’s depressing. Why yes, you astute adolescents, some of it is quite depressing. Here is a glimpse into my internal monologue. Did this guy just throw away the first 15 years of our life and call it nothing? Ouch. I think I may sleep more than the average human. If we spend that much time working, it makes it that much more important to love what you do. Adam and I might be above average on recreational travel, but we balance it out with short commutes. I hate “household activities” like regular cleaning. I really wish I could hire somebody to take over that 1,576 days of work. Only 564 days caring for the ones we love? That seems awfully low. I hope I am above average on that one.

That internal monologue is all well and good, but my two biggest takeaways surrounded the issue of TV and our remaining days.

  1. TELEVISION: After seeing this, why would I ever waste away 2,676 days of my life watching TV? According to these numbers, that is 9% of my life. 9%! Doing what? Learning something new? Rarely. Stimulating my brain? Hardly. Caring for others? Definitely a no. Adam and I have cut out most of our TV watching for this reason. We want to people that learn and do, not just sit and zone out.
  2. WHAT’S LEFT: 2,740 days left. In the video he mentions that this is the time left to laugh, cry, get on social media, play softball, swim, and more. 2,740 days. That’s it. 9.5% of our life for the rest. That’s it.

Now, I can see where that information could be depressing, but for me it’s a wakeup call. A call to move, act, live into who I was created to be. What am I waiting for? Our time on earth is short. I want to live it to the fullest doing what I was created to do. Becoming the kind of person that draws people in, loves people well, and enriches the lives of others. I want to spend my time learning and growing so I can share my passions and experiences with other people. I want to challenge and be challenged. Some of those things can’t be changed. We have to eat and some level of bathroom activity is required and encouraged, but there is so much room in there to make a difference.

What if…

  • …we spent more time caring for others? How would our world be different?
  •   …we all did work that mattered, that we were passionate about? How would our world be different?
  • …we cut TV out of our day and spent that extra time learning and engaging in the lives of other people? How would our world be different?
  •  …we challenged the next generation to inquire about their world, love others, and not waste the first 15 years of their life? How would our world be different?

I want to use my time well. I want to love people and draw them in. I want to engage others in conversations that linger. I want to live a life of depth and adventure. I want to see the world and stand in awe of the Great Creator. I want to climb mountains and listen to the ocean and be thankful for what I have.

There is no time for judgment and hate. There is no time to waste doing a meaningless, passionless job. God didn’t just plop me down here with no purpose or talents or passions. There is no time to waste away those talents and passions on things that don’t matter or don’t enrich the lives of others.

How will you use the time you have left? How will you live different than the average?