Goodbye to all that: the last letter of year 29.

I’m on a 4-hour flight to California. For some reason, I always write my most important words on airplanes. There’s something about being 10,000 feet up in the air and looking down at everything on the ground. You start to feel small. You realize you are pretty small and life is pretty short. You’ve got a short window of time to make a dent in your space in the world. Use it wisely, I tell my 20-year-old self. Use every moment wisely.

I turned 30 on Thursday. It was everything I could have wanted. We rented out my favorite coffee shop, filled it with candles and balloons, and I got to spend the evening hugging the people who made year 29 unforgettable. I’ve lived in Atlanta for four years now. I’ve made this place a home.

“Look at the transformation of this place,” my friend Blake says to me as we huddle close by the door. “This used to be your hideaway place. And now look…”

He’s right. The room is filled with people I love. There’s no hiding in this space. I’ve grown up. I’ve grown wiser. I’m ready for 30 and I feel no fear of getting older because every year teaches me something better than the one before it. I used to think it was cliché when people told me life is the ultimate teacher and now I never leave home without a notebook because there are just too many notes to take.

I’ve known for a while I wanted to write something down to commemorate another decade down. I still have so much to learn but I am beginning to believe wisdom comes at any age. Wisdom is always there waiting for you when you are ready to look up, look around, and take it all in.

So for anyone in their twenties, this letter is for you.

People will say a lot about what your twenties “should” be like but ultimately it is up to you. This is a precious time to figure it out. Ask all your questions. Say “yes” to things that scare you. Those things will be what end up making you.

Say “yes” to the first date even if you are pretty certain you won’t end up marrying him. People can always surprise you.

Say “yes” to opportunities which take you to new places. If given the chance to travel, always take it.

Admit when you’re not okay. You don’t have to hold the entire world together, that’s not your job. When you are struggling, let someone in. This matters. People cannot help you if you don’t tell them where you are.

And another thing— there’s no shame in feeling lost or depressed. Anyone who makes you feel less than because of these feelings isn’t someone you want in your corner. Admitting your need for help is a brave act and it should be commended, not condemned. On the day you whisper, “I’m not okay… please don’t leave me alone in this,” feel no shame. You’re braver than you know.

When you’re 21, you’ll be a few credits away from a major in Women’s Studies. At this point in your life, you are pretty hardcore. Your edges will soften in the years ahead as you learn what it means to be a real woman. You will learn the depths of yourself and what you bring to the table. You will value equality in all aspects of life. You will come to believe it isn’t about men being higher or women being more powerful— we all bring something necessary to the table. We all get a voice and it matters that we hone it, train it, and learn to speak with kindness, above all else.

Your words are pretty powerful. They can either build a person up or tear them down. Choose to build people up. You’ll learn in year 29 that words that don’t bring life are words better left unsaid. The bible talks a lot about the tongue and that’s because it is powerful but also the easiest way to bring others to ruin. Choose prayer over gossip. Choose encouragement over competition.

I promise you this: when you begin celebrating the people around you, something will change. When you stop believing your resources are scarce and you just begin to share what you have, the world will open up. Take off those scarcity glasses, babe. Look around you, there’s plenty.

Sometimes life will take you somewhere new. Sometimes you will be the one to pack up the suitcase and drive 1,000 miles down south. Wherever you go, God is with you and for you. That’s a complimentary travel guarantee like that first free checked bag. Go in peace. Go expectant. Go knowing that it won’t always feel like a honeymoon period. And about that honeymoon period… the day it wears off isn’t a signal to run back to everything familiar. The best refinement happens through hard lessons learned. Dig in. Don’t run.

Invest in good dinner plates. When you’re 27, you’ll think it’s silly to spend your money on plates but you’ll learn your lesson when the ones you bought from the dollar store start sparking and burning in the microwave. Buy the plates. Buy a cookbook. Learn to make a dish to share with other people. You spent the first part of your twenties loathing any form of hospitality but now you’re beginning to see it’s beautiful and sacred to offer someone a meal you made with love.

Sometimes a guy will make you feel like you’re the only girl in their orbit and then, not even a few weeks later, they’ve chosen someone else. I learned in my twenties why the overused phrase “guard your heart” matters so much. Believe it or not, it’s not some cheesy Christian term meant to have you kiss dating goodbye. Like everything else in the Bible, it’s in there because it carries weight.

Guard your heart is a way of saying, “Be careful with who you let in and what you give them access to. Some people come in for the long haul and some people come in with no intention to stay. Choose wisely. What you give to someone is given for good. You’ll have a hard time getting it back. And the biggest thing you can keep for yourself is respect.

RESPECT. It matters. Gosh, it’s everything. At the age of 22, your aunt might write you a letter to commemorate your graduating from college. You will read it out loud to your best friend on the empty beach in Cape Cod before packing up your life into a broken suitcase and moving to New York City.

She will tell you respect is the most important thing in any relationship. Like a spare tire, it’s wise to always have it around.

Two people must respect each other to remain on the same page and keep fighting for this thing called love. Mutual respect means everything. Who are we if we aren’t respected by the person who claims to love us the most?

When you’re 25, you’ll sit at a small kitchen table in the New York City apartment of one of your best friends and you both will write a list. You will call it “the list” and you will seal the envelope and write on the top of it “don’t open until you find THE ONE.”

This list will be a pile of attributes you hope your future spouse will possess. The thing is, you’ll lose that list somewhere in the next 2 years and maybe that is for the better. You should have a few “non-negotiables” as I like to call them. The things you stand for in another person and cannot be swayed on. But you will learn in the next few years that there is no perfect person. There is no “one” you cannot live without. People never come along to complete you.

Look for the one who doesn’t see your dreams to be impossible. Look for the one who grounds you in truth but also teaches you to reach for more. When someone says something like “Oh, I don’t want to have kids” or “I could never live anywhere else but here,” believe them. Don’t show up to a relationship thinking you can change the other person.

This advice is coming from someone who thought she could do it. I entered into a lot of relationships thinking I could change the person sitting across the dinner table from me. People have to want to change for themselves. I no longer believe I exist to change other people or make them better versions of themselves by my own good works.

When you’re 26, a friend will coax you to try out a dating app. It’s okay if you don’t feel ready. Time spent investing in you is never wasted. Listen to your gut because it is usually right.

Eight months later, you’ll return to that dating app download screen. Two weeks later, a man with a short red beard and a white OJ Simpson Bronco will be at your door picking you up for the first date. Laugh with him. Allow him to open the car door for you. Don’t run when he wants to see you again immediately. Three months later, you’ll be saying “I love you” to him in the mountains of Georgia. Three months after that, you’ll be saying “yes” to him in a backyard covered with twinkle lights as your favorite people surround you. Five months later, you’ll wear white and he’ll look handsome in tweed. You’ll say vows and you will say to God beneath your breath, “Thank you for the wait. It was worth it.”

Love, you’ll learn, is never perfect. It’s tough and two people must show up with armor on. Love is a war for one another in a world that begs you to consider other options. Learn the art of devotion in a fleeting culture. Make love the top priority.

People will come and go in and out of your life. And that’s okay. Things end. Friendships don’t always go on forever. You’ll hopefully have your people though. And you’ll learn, as you grow up, that you don’t need the whole world sitting at your table. It really only takes one, maybe two, people who get you and want to be with you in the mess. You don’t need everyone’s approval. And you don’t have to stick around when friends make you walk on eggshells, or disrespect you, or make you feel like you’re always doing the chasing.

Find people who value you and check up on you. And then… this is a big one… return the favor. Friendship is a two-way street. No matter what. Go out of your way to show others that they matter to you. Serve your friends. Be the 2am phone call. Respect one another.

I used to think I had to hold onto every friend I ever made and then some important people walked out of my life. And the biggest freedom I gained? The day I stopped believing I was less than because I didn’t have them anymore or that it was my fault when they chose to leave.

People will choose to leave you. It will happen. And the hard but beautiful truth in that is just how resilient you’ll turn out to be. You’ll never know how resilient you actually are until people leave you or life breaks your heart or the cards don’t fall as you plan. Rejoice in these unseen tragedies because these pieces are a part of your becoming.

When you are 26 and sitting in the waiting room of a doctor’s office about to be prescribed for medication, release the shame. There is no shame in that small pill you’ll begin taking. There is no tie between that small pill and the God you are searching for. God is not looking at you with a look of dismay and thinking to himself, “Ugh, that one just can’t hold it together.”

In the years to come, that small pill will thicken your faith in God. It will allow you to breathe and finally find worth in yourself. That small pill will be a miracle to you so don’t discount it as anything but that. Don’t allow others to make you feel small in your faith because you need medication to thrive throughout a given day. Your God is bigger than that and you have nothing to prove to other people.

Another note on God: you’ll adopt a “Moses” kind of faith in your late twenties. Moses is the one in the bible who had intimacy with God. He felt the freedom to ask God all his questions and God never turned him away or liked him any less. You will learn God isn’t coming at you with a measuring stick or a disdained face. You will learn there is such freedom and beauty in inching closer to God and deciding not to run anymore.

Your prayers matter. They’re not dumb. They’re not trivial. Pray about nearly everything. Submit other people to prayer. Prayer is the way you and God dialogue back and forth. He’s not holding out on you or waiting for you to clean up your act before you chat. This isn’t his nature or his character. He isn’t out to get you.

Work hard. You’re not owed anything. Above all else, invest in your craft. Make a vow to that craft: I will do my very best to know you and master you.

Believe in that 10,000 hours rule. Put your blinders on and stay focused. Like I said— the world owes you nothing so don’t stand there with your hands outstretched waiting.

Write the dang book. Stop talking about it. Stop berating yourself for not starting the thing and just sit down and begin. Struggling with where to start? Open a word document and type these words: chapter one. There… that’s where it all begins.

The outcome will be sloppy and beautiful. Tell yourself now, “I will not be enslaved to perfection.” Write from that pit in your belly where all the visceral feelings live. Slam your fingers against those keys until you feel something mad and wild release from you.

Don’t sign up for the role of writer for that bestseller title. Sign up because you are desperate for the craft. Sign up because neglecting the art of writing would be the greatest tragedy of your short life. Sign up because you don’t recognize yourself when you’re not writing.

Be kind to yourself. Don’t force yourself into diets or restrictions as an act of hatred. Feed your body real food as much as you can. Say “thank you” to your body at least every six months for the things it gives you without you even asking. Without this skin, you wouldn’t be here. So again (because it is worth repeating): be kind to your body because you only get one.

When you are 24, you will think the idea of “self-care” is really selfish. It’s not. Taking care of others begins with taking care of yourself. It’s a domino effect.

Moisturizing is essential. Wear sunscreen.

Look beyond the screen. It’s easy to judge a person by their Instagram feed but you’d be better off knowing this: every person you’ve seen living a “perfect” life on Instagram has some struggle. What people choose to curate isn’t the full story and there is absolute freedom in not needing to know all the details of another person’s life. Be in the lives of your people. Consider that enough.

Our phones are a silly little device meant to connect us. They were originally made so we could hear the sound of each other’s voices from miles away and relay messages quickly. It’s on us to make sure we stay connected when the phones shut off.

Pick up the phone and call just to hear someone’s voice on the other side of the line. Buy flowers for your friends just to see their reaction. Go above and beyond whenever you can because that’s the stuff that will actually, actually fill you.

This is just the beginning to a list of life lessons that could go on for days. My last piece of advice: write it all down. Sit down at the end of each day and ask God, “What was there for me to learn today?” There’s always something. Life is always teaching you something worth paying attention to.

Above everything else: you’re capable. It matters that you’re here. On the days where you struggle with purpose and desire, you’re not alone. These questions you’re asking make for ground. Ask them all. Find what makes you come alive. You might not even be able to imagine at age 21 what you will be doing at age 26. That’s okay.

Take in the grace. Take the next step forward. Say yes and thank you. Take too many pictures. Cease the moment and live in it for as long as you can. Stay honest. Stay real. Stay golden.

tying you closer than most,

hb.

Put on your strength: a step towards mental health.

Hi Hannah! 

I’ve been following you for awhile now on social media and appreciate your honesty and wisdom especially when it comes to anxiety and depression. I’ve dealt with anxiety probably most of my life but the past few years I believe it has gotten worse. I’m 29 about to be 30, in a stressful job where I am unhappy, wish I was married, and in need of a strong community of believers around me but is seriously lacking these days. I think all of these are contributing factors in why my anxiety/depression has been so much worse.  

I want to go to a doctor and explore the idea of medication but even the idea of finding a doctor, going, and explaining everything is overwhelming enough. I recently opened up a little to my mom about it but her advice is to pray more which she is probably right but it’s hard to pray more when I can’t think rationally due to overwhelming anxiety. 

I’m not even sure why I’m writing to you I NEVER do things like this but I appreciate your words on the subject and would gladly accept any advice you might have for me! 

Thanks for taking the time 🙂

S


Dear S,

There’s a passage in the book of Isaiah, chapter 52, that starts like this: Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion. I’ve been sitting with those words since Monday night and I think maybe they were meant to be passed onto you.

In the Message Translation of the Bible, they name Chapter 52 as “God is leading you out of here.”

It’s a call to the people who have been stuck in exile for quite some time. It’s a call to the people who have felt hopeless and tired, wondering to themselves, “Will this darkness never cease?”

I could say a million things to you right now but I think you need to hear this first: God is leading you out of here. Put on your strength. Like a well-loved denim jacket, put on any ounce of strength you’ve got left in your tired body. You won’t be left in this struggle alone. You’re coming out of the woods.

I feel compelled to say these things because the conversation about faith + mental illness gets really messy sometimes. The church has a long way to go when it comes to talking about mental illness but I’ve honestly seen more talking than ever before. That gives me hope.

In the midst of my severe depression, I couldn’t shield myself from the people who thought I just needed more faith. Or I just needed more prayer. Or I just needed to dig into my own well of strength and rewire the pathways in my brain manually. They made it seem easy.

And, girl, there is so much temptation to get mad at those people and the comments they make. But anger won’t do anything. They can’t help what they don’t yet know. Take the words from someone who knows depression like a sister by now: your depression isn’t a matter of “get stronger” or “have more faith.” God isn’t looking at you and saying to himself, “Man, I just wish you could hold it together a little more… could you get on my level?”

Do I think faith and prayer matter in the battle for mental health? Absolutely. But medicine is a modern-day miracle.

“Taking medicine is a wise act of faith, not unfaith,” Zack Eswine writes. “It would not be wise to live by a supposed faith, and cast off the physician and his medicines, any more than to discharge the butcher, and the tailor, and expect to be fed and clothed by faith,” Charles Spurgeon said.

If I could speak one piece of advice over my 7-year battle with mental health, I would just say this: “Don’t let fear be the thing that stops you from getting the help you need. If anyone else were drowning, you’d tell them to reach out and grab the life jacket. Don’t ignore the symptoms of drowning.”

Several years ago I tried to get “in shape” for my wedding. I already had the dress and I didn’t have to lose much weight but I wanted what most women want when they look back on wedding photos- to be able to say I looked my best on that day.

No matter what I tried to do, I could not lose weight. It was impossible. I felt hopeless. A friend of mine thought my inability to lose weight was tied up in the medication I was taking for depression. That was all it took for me, S, one person’s opinion was all I needed to stop taking my medication.

I felt triumphant. I started talking about going “au naturel” and people loved the thought of me not having to be on medication for my entire life. I thought I’ve got this. I’m treating this naturally. I don’t want something in my body that messes with my ability to drop a few pounds.

Things went downhill quickly. Within the span of a few weeks, I was feeling anxious again. I was struggling to stay focused. A thick fog of sadness settled over me. There was one day in particular where I started having a panic attack in my gym, thinking to myself, “I’m going back into the dark. Dear God, help me. I don’t want to go back into the dark place.”

I share this for a few reasons:

  1. Our friends and family mean well but they might not always be right. You’ve got to test everything. People talk out of what they know and understand to be true. Turns out, my medication didn’t stand in the way of me losing weight (I learned this a year later while completing a Whole30). Your mother, if she has never dealt with depression, may think the remedy is prayer. More prayer. Do I think prayer is a part of the journey? Yes, of course. Do I think “more prayer” is enough to get you out of a depression when there is a real chemical imbalance in your brain or a situation you can’t leave right now? In my own experience, no.
  2. I quickly became intoxicated by this idea of what it would look like to battle my depression “naturally.” I felt like Gwenyth-freaking-Paltrow for about five minutes. But I’m not Gwenyth and it turns out my body was all sorts of shell-shocked by my decision to go cold-turkey off the medicine. I had to spend so much mental energy just trying to tread water while off the medication. I was going to impress people, I thought. I became enamored by a reality that wasn’t my own, by a story of “girl goes off medication and deals with it naturally” that wasn’t my story to hold. Maybe one day I will be able to be off of my medication but you know what, S? That’s not my goal. My goal is to be as healthy and happy as I can be and I am thankful medication helps me do that.
  3. Never go off your medication, cold-turkey, in the middle of planning a wedding. Just don’t.

Would I go back and do this string of events differently? Maybe. For a few seconds, I think maybe I would. But then I remember what came out of that mistake of mine:

My therapist, who’d formed a relationship with me, phoned a doctor friend. The doctor, who normally had a wait list 6-months out, was able to get me in for a visit 6 weeks later. In the meantime, I went back on my medication. It was an act of faith for me. It was a step towards getting better. And in those 6 weeks of waiting, God did something in my heart which made me ready to talk about medication and the possibility that I might be on it forever. We don’t know, S. We just can’t know.

All in all, it came down to a step in the right direction. One step and then another step. That’s the only advice I feel compelled to give you today: just take the first, scary step.

You hit a wall. You wrote it out to me. You’re sad. You’re unhappy. You might be disappointed in God. You hit the point where sadness has become your default and you need to see what could be waiting on the other side.

It takes a Google search or asking around within your community. After that, it takes scheduling the appointment.

On the day of that appointment, you show up. You breathe in and out. You ask questions. You answer questions. You begin a journey towards mental health and there’s no shame in that.

You going to see a doctor isn’t a scratch on you. That’s not a defect or a disqualification. Depression doesn’t discount you. When condemnation comes rapping on your door, speak firmly to it, “You can’t come here anymore.”

Health is beautiful but health looks different for all of us. My journey won’t mirror yours. Yours won’t be the same as your people’s journies. But we all have a journey and it matters that we take it seriously.

It’s that one small step, S. It’s that picking up of the strength you’ve got left and cloaking it over you. Wake up, babe. Wake up. Put on your strength.

tying you closer than most,

hb.


No doubt that S will be reading the comments below. This is a hard yet necessary conversation to have. I would love for you to post an encouraging message below or a piece of your own story. Every little word counts in this space. Remind the others: you’re not alone.

Come matter here.

“Come matter here. I know that story. I lived that story. For years, I was consumed by what it would mean to “matter” in this world. To people. To someone special. To God.

I think we’ve all felt that. We want to know that our lives matter, that this isn’t some crazy accident we all got stuck inside of. I started to chase after whatever the world told me mattered. Success. Acclaim. Love. Happiness. I became obsessed with this idea of “getting there,” wherever “there” was. I was in a constant state of waiting to arrive somewhere better.

I didn’t know yet that all the good things—like faith, love, trust—don’t happen overnight. You can’t pick them up from the drive-thru or snag them in an instant download. It’s easier to run after the next thing the world tells you matters. It’s easier to never do the hard work of planting your roots or letting people in as you grab your suitcase and run hard toward “the next thing.”

But when you get tired of running, there’s a better story waiting to begin. I promise, it’s better. Yet there’s a catch: you’ll just have to stick around long enough. You’ll have to dig in and do the work—the work that happens in the here and now.”

Come Matter Here, Pg. 16.

This big box of books showed up my doorstep last week. I’m absolutely speechless. I hoped this day would come but I honestly didn’t know for a while. It felt like such a wrestle to get to this place after three years of trying.

As you may know, Come Matter Here is my second book. The two books could not be more different. My first book– If You Find This Letter— was a straight memoir. Come Matter Here is more centered around themes, around different topics that matter in our daily lives.

I wrote Come Matter Here after walking through and out of a severe depression that stole any form of normalcy in my life for 4 months. I didn’t know if I would even work or write again. I wrote the book because for so long I was enamored by what it would mean to “matter.” I wanted my actions to matter. I wanted my words to matter. Plain and simple: I wanted people to look at me and say, “She matters.”

I can tell you this (because I’ve been there before), a TED talk won’t make you feel like you matter. A book deal won’t fill the hole. A shiny new relationship will lose its luster after a little while. I strived for all of these things. I pushed for all of these things. And I was surprised to find myself still wanting more.

I’d love for you to pre-order this book. It would mean the world to me. I realize I am asking this big thing and I, myself, rarely used to go out of my way to pre-order a book. Now I do pre-order books from my favorite authors because every pre-order sends a message to the bookseller that a) this book matters and b) you should stock it. Plus you get the book on your doorstep the day it comes out!

Whether it’s your local Barnes & Noble, Target, or Amazon- I would so appreciate your pre-order. You can submit your receipt here and get the following instantly when you pre-order:

  • The first two chapters of Come Matter Here
  • My digital bible study “First Be a Follower”
  • 3 downloadable + printable prints

If you order 3+ books, please send your receipt to us at info@hannahbrencher. I will handwrite and mail you a letter- or send it off to the person of your choice! 

This book goes out into the world on May 29. I can hardly believe it but I am so grateful to God for this great opportunity to see a huge chunk of my heart (200+ pages of it) show up in bookstores around the country. If you’ve got a dream to write a book one day, don’t give up on yourself. Don’t deem the process too hard or the vision too big. What sits between you thinking you’ll write the book and actually writing the book is one thing: the words. Sit down. Write honestly. See what’s inside of you waiting to come out. I promise it will be worth it.

tying you closer than most,

hb.

The Better Guide // April Edition.

the better guide (4).png

Welcome to Issue 4 of the Better Guide! 

This is my monthly guide– a most-random resource list of all things food, drink, faith, fitness, and fun. I publish this guide at the end of every month (consider it a wrap-up of the last 30 or so days) and I am making a single promise to you in creating and curating the resource list: I promise to seek the better. I promise to gather resources, apps, news, and test them out first. I’ll be the guinea pig, ready to report back my findings. I promise not to report things that are fake, way too much money, or will ultimately do nothing for your life but distract you. Life is precious and I ain’t toying with your hours nor could I ever, in good conscience, recommend a $600 gym bag to you. I promise to be fair, real, transparent, and ultimately focused on the better. Better health. Better work. Better relationships. All the better. 


Better Reads.

  • I read this book in approximately 28 hours. I picked it up last week in the bookstore on the way to Mexico, wanting a beach read that would be a little outside of my usual tastes. This book did not disappoint. I still can’t believe I picked it up but I am so glad I did!
  • If you need your Gone Girl fix for the month then look no further. This book satisfied my cravings. Mind you, I don’t think this book was written to keep you guessing so don’t expect to play detective. The plot unfolds pretty naturally and it’s still definitely a page-turner.
  • My girl Karen Stott releases her first book TOMORROW! I’ve known and loved Karen for the last 5 years. She’s a mover & a shaker and this book is the perfect addition to your bookshelf if you’re ready to live more intentionally.
  • It’s no secret how much I love Hayley Morgan. She’s got a new Weekend Eve newsletter that I really think you need to subscribe to.

Better Travel.

  • On the chance that you’re looking for a spot to vacation or a dreamy honeymoon, I just got back from this resort and I have nothing but the BEST things to say. The service was stellar, the food was amazing, and I wanted to stay forever.
  • Until you’ve unpacked and repacked your suitcase before a flight, you don’t realize how necessary these things are.

Better Tech.

  • Last month I came hungry for a review on these and I am pumped to say: I bought them and I am LOVING THEM. I don’t invest in tech all that often but I am already so glad I took the plunge, splurged a little, and got something that is making my walks, workouts, and day-to-day life easier.
  • I get lots of questions about where my graphics come from. I don’t always use a designer. In fact, a lot of the graphics I make on my own right here.

Better Home.

If I still had a wedding registry then I would put the following things on my list:

Better Eats.

  • Shhh… don’t tell Lane but I am totally going to make these brownies in the next week. I wonder if he will notice the extra ingredients hiding in the batter…
  • Another recipe I’m trying out this month. Already salivating.

Have a suggestion for the May Better Guide? Get at us. 

First comes the wedding. Then comes the marriage.

Hey Hannah!

I am two months out from my wedding and I wanted to see if you had any advice for self-care and creating balance amidst the craziness. I never like to hyper focus my efforts on one thing, so I don’t want to get too wrapped up in the wedding things because life keeps going outside of that! My fiance and I also just bought a house in January so we have been in the process of making it a home. Things have been busy!!!

Basically, I want to know how you would go about savoring these big and exciting moments while also making space for myself and my normal, everyday life things? I know the wedding stuff will be over before I know it and will never happen again, but I can’t help but think that there is more to life in these final 60-ish days of our engagement besides wedding planning spreadsheets and minute details that likely nobody will notice when the day comes. I always like to be working on making myself the best possible version I can be, so I don’t want to lose that just because I have a lot going on. 

Thank you for listening to my ramblings!

Best,

H.


Sweet H,

Here is a list of things I remember about my wedding day:
>
1. The look on Lane’s face as I walked towards him. 
2. A swarm of my favorite people crowded around a burger truck outside. 
3. The way the room felt during the ceremony: we got married in an old library and I just remember the room being drenched– absolutely drenched– in the presence of God. It’s a hard thing to explain but it’s a feeling you cannot shake. 
4. Wishing I could sit with every guest and talk for two hours. 
5. Ditching the heels for Adidas sneakers before my dress was even on. I bought these beautiful Nine West heels and they never even made it out of the box. 
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I remember the little details. I remember what the letter board signs said. I remember the wildest dance floor that I had ever experienced in my life. I am not kidding you, this thing was wild. I remember the countless hours Lane and I spent leading up to the wedding day writing handwritten notes to every guest in attendance. I wanted everyone to feel chosen. Hand picked. Letters have a way of doing that for people. I remember sending out a Starbucks gift card to all the wedding guests the week before the wedding and people emailing us back selfies with lattes.
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A lot of the big details are a blur for me. Some are captured in photos. I don’t remember a thing I said to Lane during the ceremony, only that I cried quietly in the business area of the hotel that morning as I wrote my vows (yea, I waited until the last minute).
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I remember the way we exited the venue. How everyone dunked their palms into buckets and pulled out a handful of fake snow. I remember Lane and I running hand-in-hand as people threw the snow on us. It was magical. It was one of those rare days where everyone gathers in one place to celebrate love.
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Savor the little things, H. As the days crawl closer (or maybe they are running at this point), savor the tiny things between the two of you. Make space to laugh. Talk about things outside of the wedding planning. Remember: the wedding is just the beginning. It’s a single day. What follows after the wedding is the thing that takes the real work.
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It’s easy to get swept up in seating arrangements and the color of tablecloths but there is something more serious, more important at stake here. You are getting married. You are making a covenant in front of people. You are choosing a hard pathway, a pathway that ends 50% of the time in our culture. I remember telling myself as I planned, “Don’t think for a second this is about a dress or a cake. This is about a partner.”
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See your future partner above the party. Plan the marriage as you plan the wedding because that plan is going to matter very soon.
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Lean into building the strongest foundation for your future marriage. This is the part more people should write about. People love to write about the extravagant details of a wedding. I think we need more commentary on the extravagant details of marriage because they do exist.
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I’m not a marriage expert so I won’t pretend to be. But I do know this: the wedding sealed us, bound us together, but it is every day after that wedding which makes us who we are as a couple. We are defined by our love. We are defined by how we handle conflict, how we resolve the arguments. We are defined by whether we stay or run, whether we keep promises or keep secrets.
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When the day is over, all that is left is a dried up bouquet and the vows. Invest in the vows daily. I believe this is incredibly essential within a world that tells us, “Do what feels right.” I think we have feelings for a reason but if I listened to those feelings of mine all the time then our fights would never be resolved, I’d always get my way, and we wouldn’t grow closer in love.
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Vow to choose one another daily. Say to one another, “In this crazy world where it feels impossible to choose a coffee option off a board at Starbucks or choose a laundry detergent from the cleaning aisle at Target, we are choosing. Hallelujah, we are choosing!”
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One last note: What I remember most about that day is that the dance floor was filled with every person in my life that I loved and cherished. All in one place. Never to happen again. I remember going up the grand staircase in the middle of the party and just watching everyone down below. I remember my brother and cousins lifting Lane into the air during the crowd surfing and me thinking, “Wow, this is the best feeling in the world. How, in moments like this one, do I ever doubt God?”
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I think the very best thing you can invest your time and energy into before the wedding, during the wedding, and after the wedding is the same: people. Other people. The people who helped you build your love story brick by brick. The people who will be sitting in the chairs. The people who are lifting you up to heaven right now without you even realizing it.
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Yes, people will have their eyes on you that day. But be sure to look around at everyone gathering with you on that day. These are your people. These are the ones who choose your love story. Some of these people will be pillars in your story. Some won’t stay forever. Whatever the outcome, these people matter.
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I am learning if I spend every single day seeking to make people feel loved, chosen and special then I can never lose. I can never really say a day is wasted.
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Invest in yourself. Invest in him. Invest in the future marriage. Invest in the people. I don’t know much but I know these are the things that matter.
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Have some sweet advice for H? Please write a comment below. I know she will be reading and it’s beautiful when we can use a forum like this one to connect with one another.

Just do one thing.

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Its been one of those weeks for you. You know the kind.

The to-do list is long. You’re looking at each item– a thousand small tasks sitting with each one– and thinking to yourself, “How? How am I going to do all this?”

Breathe. Take that moment. Do one more thing.

Anxiety wants to tell you that you can’t possibly get it done. You can’t make an impact. You can’t make a difference. Anxiety wants you to sit down and spin your wheels with all sorts of thoughts you were never meant to hold in your tiny hands, “Am I good enough? Do I have what it takes? Can I really make this happen?”

You. You’re the right person for the job. This list of things for you to do isn’t accidental. You’re more equipped than you think. You’re more capable than you imagine.

I know these things about you because I daily speak these truths over my own life. I call my husband and I find myself drowning in self-pity as I whine into the phone, “I can’t do it. There’s too much. I feel incapable.”

It’s a pity party. A short dedication, a party ballad, to all the ways I think I cannot possibly make it happen this week. I’m good at hosting these parties. They do not last long since my husband never wants to attend these parties of mine. I can sit and eat my pity cake solo or I can grow up and go forward.

But then I sit down. I do the first thing. I do something that seems completely manageable. It leads to something else. Soon enough, the tension eases up. I realize, “I’ve got this. I can do this. I am equipped for this.”

You’ve got this. What you have to make sure you do is actually show up for it. Show up and then keep showing up. Fear wants to draw a map for you but it won’t ever lead to a good and proper destination. It will always leave you lost. Aimless. Striving.

Babe, this life isn’t about striving. I’m young but I can say that with the fullest confidence. If you’re striving at this moment then I know more about you than you think: I know you’re exhausted. I know you are trying to perform. I know you are pushing things out there into the world just hoping they will stick.

It will burn you out. Because you were made for brighter things than constantly trying to measure up to a standard that isn’t real.

You’re not drowning. You’re not too far gone either. Just take that spare breath- it’s always there waiting for you. Make a list. Pick one thing to tackle.

Just do one thing.

Want to write more this year? Let’s roll!

hey you!

Just a note: this is the last time I will be offering a live digital version of my writing class! If you’ve wanted to grab the class live then this is your chance! I’ll be offering something new in the Summer but this course is the last of its kind!

xoxo,

hb.

I used to be a drama queen when it came to writing. I would claim I couldn’t write until “inspiration hit.” And you know where that got me? Missing out on a lot of writing that would have just happened naturally if I’d been so inclined to just quit being dramatic and get my butt in the chair. I had to stop telling myself these lofty lies about my writer dreams and just say, “Okay, I want to write as much as possible. I want to see what comes out of me when I sit down to write. I want to do this thing and love this craft with everything I’ve got.” Change your mindset and you end up changing the whole story.

The thing is: so much of writing is discipline. Discipline is not a sexy word but it’s essential for anyone who wants to figure out what they have to say and be someone who actually does the writing rather than just talking about writing “one day.” My writing course is about discipline (and storytelling, Taylor Swifting, platform-building, and vulnerability).

I created this course in 2015 after I realized there was a large pocket of people who wanted to write more. More books. More blog posts. More copy. Even more journal writing. I have LOVED teaching so many creatives, bosses, students, and lovers of the written word how to finally sit down and just do the dang thing. I would love for you to join the community of over 700+ who’ve taken my writing courses.

WHO:

This class is designed for anyone who wants to write more. There is no skill level required to take this class. Just come ready with a notebook, pen, and a willingness to learn.

WHEN:

Saturday, April 21. 12-3 (est), 9-12 (pst). Can’t make the date? You can purchase the class and get the materials delivered to your inbox. Go at your own pace and still join the community! You won’t miss a thing!

WHERE:

Online. No need to go anywhere. Come in your jammies if you please!

WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT:

This 3-hour online intensive will be broken up into two teaching parts + an extended Q &A for all participants (with short breaks in between to refuel with lots of coffee).

A NOTEBOOK WITH LOTS OF PAGES IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED FOR THE FOLLOWING:

  • Teaching Part 1: the writing process.
  • Teaching Part 2: storytelling.
  • Lightning Round: branding 101 + building a platform
  • Extended Q&A (you get to ask me anything!)

TOPICS WE COVER:

  • The elements of compelling storytelling
  • Breaking the fear
  • Developing voice
  • Connecting with readers
  • The art of Taylor Swifting
  • Consistency & control in writing
  • Vulnerability hangovers
  • Finding direction with a crowded writing world

YOU’LL GET ALL THIS WHEN YOU SIGN UP: 

  • A recording of the teaching.
  • All handouts + material used in the course.
  • Invitation to a closed writing community//alumni group after completion of the Writing Intensive.