The Lost Art of Emailing

The Lost Art of Emailing

Isn’t the email a wonderful thing?

E-mail. Electronic mail.

A beautiful concept, if you ask me. Britney Spears even wrote a song about it.

The 1990s, like, totally wowed everyone with the fastest form of communication available. And yet, in the year 2020, emailing is a controversial topic.

Some people love it. And some people hate it. There is no in between.

You sit down to the computer, mind focused, pointer fingers on the respective “f” and “j” keys. Typing class has nothing on you now because you can type 93 words per minute (true story). You crack your knuckles and begin typing. The words flow from your mind to your fingertips, and you’re lost in the current one-sided conversation you’re having.

E-mails are so versatile. They can be casual. They can be formal. They can be fun. They can be serious. Case in point below.

“omg hey grl !!! gr8 to hear from u! hope ur doing well, miss ya ilylas 🙂 ~~”
-2011 me

“To Whom It May Concern, I have recently read and dissected your article about the origins of human inequality, and I concede that your results are truly insightful. May you be so kind as to share them with me for the purposes of an article I am writing? Cordially,”
-2020 me

See? Beautiful. I can change my tone, the register of language, and my expressions. (Plus, my handwriting is tragic, so a typed letter is better for anyone involved.)

I know what you purists are saying.

I, too, am a fan of letter writing. But let’s be honest, sometimes it takes a little too long.

So, some of my close friends and I have opted to email each other our letters instead. It’s more practical in a quarantine age where touching anything requires immediate disinfecting.


How do you feel about emailing? Are you an avid emailer ? A person who leaves their inbox with 30,000 unread emails (Mom…)? Someone who prefers another form of communication? Perhaps write me an email to answer these questions.

P.S. Here’s the Britney song. E-mail My Heart, baby.

The New Normal

The New Normal

I was watching Seinfeld last night with my roommate. (I’ve been trying to convince her it’s the greatest show ever, but you know, these things take time.) “Stop, Jerry, don’t touch your face! You’re on the subway,” we laughed. “This was definitely in a pre-quarantine life.”

I paused.

A pre-quarantine life.

I had just admitted it. That things have changed. Things are not what they used to be. Life feels different now.

There’s been a sense of it lingering in the air since this all started, but my fears were confirmed when that statement left my mouth. Will things ever go back to normal? Is this the death of the handshake? The hug? La bise? (Noooo!!)

Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com

My mind is so scattered. I feel like I barely even remember what life was like before all of this. I’m living in a bubble, belonging neither to country nor city nor even community. Going to the grocery store is exceedingly stressful, leaving the house is more of a hassle than a thing to be enjoyed, and life being entirely virtual is something I only read about in dystopian novels from the 1940s. But it’s real.

We all know that even when country borders are reopened, when work starts back, when people are allowed to go out in public freely, things will not be the same. I would argue that it will not be the same for a very, very long time. Can we truly be prepared for how this might impact our communities in the long run? What will be the emotional, psychological and even philosophical response in our communities and nations?

The Coronavirus Culture

It’s no secret that people have been slightly panicky since the rise of the novel coronavirus. Fear creeps into our minds as grocery store shelves empty. We hear talk of not enough testing, not enough food supply, not enough, not enough, not enough…

What’s scary about this collective fear is how difficult it is to break the cycle of it. It’s like a cement that hardens into the crevices of society, leaving no room for any other way of thinking. It soon becomes all we know and all we project to know going forward.

We’ve stopped nearly all forms of face-to-face interaction (or at least, most people have). We are cautious of germs and people being too close to us, and some people even freak out when someone sneezes in public. Clinical psychologist Steve Taylor discusses current coronavirus culture in an interview with Discover Magazine. “Fears will wax and wane depending on what happens. There was a spike in fear when the [World Health Organization] started using the “p” word — pandemic. That caused a spike in people’s anxiety,” Taylor said.

Though fear is prevalent and understandable, we cannot let it control us. If we do, we run the risk of falling into a worldwide groupthink.

Groupthink and the psychology behind pandemics

Groupthink is the psychological concept in which individual members of “small cohesive groups tend to accept a viewpoint or conclusion that represents a perceived group consensus, whether or not the group members believe it to be valid, correct, or optimal.” Groupthink essentially dumbs down the part of the brain that effectively problem solves, resulting in a weaker collective mindset rather than a stronger, individual one.

Combine this psychological phenomenon with a pandemic and what do you have? A perfect storm.

And yet, this storm must be weathered. How can we overcome this overwhelming epidemic of fear?

  1. Use perspective: When looking at statistics or reading articles, keep in mind the various populations, perspectives, sources and relevant information. Do not diminish the tragedy of the epidemic, but make the numbers or news more comprehensible and manageable in your brain.
  2. Feel your feelings: It might sound counterintuitive when you are trying to be logical, but give yourself a set amount of time per day to feel the fear, anxiety, anger and whatever else you feel. And after that time is up, it’s up. Move on to other activities. This will prevent you from letting those emotions seep into other important aspects of your life, such as your interpersonal relationships.
  3. Analyze: I cannot say this enough. Analyze your thoughts. Analyze your actions. Analyze others and the situations around you. Do not fall into the numbness of groupthink nor any other type of complacent thinking process. We simply cannot afford it in times like these.

So, humanity, this is our test. We either sink or swim. We either adapt to the new normal or we spend our lives in fear. How long do you think it will take for us to get back to a pre-COVID life? (I’m not sure that we ever will.)


How are you feeling during all of this? What questions have been on your mind? How are you handling this new way of life? I’d love to hear from you. Comment below! Stay safe everyone. For more articles related to psychology and pandemics and all that jazz, check out this one, this one or this one.

P.S. Please wash your hands thoroughly and regularly, even after all of this is over. I am shocked at how many people don’t do that???? (Including Poppie).

I’m not a good friend… But then again, are any of us?

I’m not a good friend… But then again, are any of us?

And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Friendship seems like a skill or topic I was never really keen on. I’m not really sure why. It’s something I am still learning about.

Yes, I had to learn how to be a good friend.

Don’t we all? I don’t know. Some people seem to be born with it. All these questions hit me when I found a quote about friendship from “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran:

“And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit. For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.

And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need but not your emptiness.

And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”

What is a friend?
What is true friendship?
How do we choose friends and why?
How are friendships so complex and yet so simple?

Pretty sure it was Voltaire (or another French philosopher) who said that friendship is like a garden to be cultivated. And it makes sense. Humans are pretty selfish creatures (the paradox being that we equally crave human connection), so we have to learn to give to others.

But I think that is precisely what makes friendship so beautiful. The sacrifice. The deepening of the spirit. The mutual care and cherishing. Even the Bible talks about the beauty of friendship. (I mean, look at Jesus and his disciples. The bond they shared was evident throughout the New Testament.)

“A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.” Prov. 17:17

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:12-13

So, in short, I’m still learning what it means to be a friend. A good friend. One who is willing to fill the needs of others, not their emptiness.

What is friendship to you? Would you consider yourself a good friend? I’d love to hear your thoughts, if you want to leave a comment below.

Until my next existential crisis,

Kristen

FPWTF: Grace Fries

FPWTF: Grace Fries

This series is called “Fashion Philosophies and Where to Find Them.” After spending time in many corners of the world, I constantly come back to how amazed I am at people’s ability to express themselves through something as simple as the fabric they wear. My contributors come from all over the world, and this is how they have shaped their own personal style as it relates to their identity. 


Ever since I can remember, I’ve been intensely fascinated with the history of fashion. Specifically, the fashion of the latter half of the twentieth century.

Stevie Nicks.

Jane Birkin.

Janis Joplin.

These are just a few of the women who have shaped and contributed to my personal style. I admire these women for their courage to quite simply be themselves.

The art of not caring what others think is intricate and much more than what it sounds like on the surface. In my experience, it takes a great deal of bravery and spirit to put aside the opinions of others and completely be yourself. Over the past year or so, I’ve begun to discover the importance of individuality.

My Fashion Identity

August 18, 2018.

I walked through the doors of my high school for the first time.

I was determined. I was ready to make a name for myself.

But I quickly realized that my expectations were much higher than they should have been. Actually, my expectations were quite the opposite of what you might assume from the average freshman.

Nearly every day, I walked in the doors in eccentric, Joni Mitchell-esque outfits. As the weeks went by, I found that I was just about the only one dressing like this. I let unspoken peer-pressure overcome me and I tried to dress like “everyone else.” I put too much makeup on my face. I tried too hard to please others without letting it show. I couldn’t come off as desperate for attention, of course. 

Later that year and into the summer, I started listening to ’70s music almost exclusively. The Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Tom Petty, Elton John. But more than anything, I listened to Janis Joplin. I fell in love with her music. Her voice was so unique, nothing like what I’d heard before. One day, I sat down and googled “Janis Joplin.” I scrolled through some pictures and read a few articles and fell in love with not only her music, but her style, too. From that moment on, she has been the biggest inspiration behind my style. I found what she chose to wear to be so inspiring, but more so, I was inspired by her unflinching courage to wear whatever she wanted to wear without giving attention to what others thought. (Disclaimer: I do realize that there are components of Janis’ life that I don’t approve of and don’t want in my own, but nevertheless, I still find her eccentricity and independence inspiring.)

I also let my environment have an effect on how I dress. Tennessee is full of art and–you guessed it–thrift stores. I do the bulk of my shopping at thrift stores around town. I love to take the culture of Chattanooga and incorporate it into my style.

What I love about my style is that it’s never monotonous. One day I’ll be wearing one outfit, the next day my outfit might look completely different. Much like Chattanooga, there’s always something new but the classics are still there.

There is a quote from Alexander McQueen that I’ve always found inspiring. “I think there is beauty in everything. What ‘normal’ people perceive as ugly, I can usually see something of beauty in it.” 

Above all, my goal is to inspire others with the way I dress. To show the world that it’s okay to be yourself. It’s okay to be different.


For more of Grace’s style, check out her Instagram @sarahgracefries!

FPWTF: Lauren McKinney

FPWTF: Lauren McKinney

One year ago I opened my closet door, thumbed through a hodgepodge of florals, ruffles, peplums, and plaids…

and realized that I didn’t love anything. 

My closet was packed, but I still found nothing to wear. 

I labored over each piece, attempting to create cohesion in a haphazard wardrobe that was built on fast fashion and end-of-the-year sales. With no knowledge of capsule wardrobes, I searched YouTube for “effortless fashion” and stumbled on Signe Hansen’s YouTube channel, “Useless.” Her methods were entirely revolutionary to me.

Was it really possible to be stylish and love my wardrobe without having an overflowing closet and a surplus of money? 

Consumerism’s grip on my wallet (and mind) told me no, but Signe’s videos told me otherwise. So I began the process of reinventing my wardrobe. 

One year later and I’ve sold almost everything I reluctantly wore and have funded my new capsule wardrobe almost entirely from those sales. Now I dress myself in no time, everything matches, and believe it or not, this smaller wardrobe has made me more creative and given me way more outfit options. 

The past year has totally flipped my fashion philosophy on its head. Creating a capsule wardrobe has honestly changed my life. It sounds dramatic, I know, but not only do I spend less money on clothes, I also understand the implications of everything I purchase. 

So, what is a capsule wardrobe? 

In short, my capsule wardrobe has three components: an all-year basics component, a seasonal component, and an all-year color scheme. I only keep/buy what I love so my closet is lean, and I like it that way. My basics stay in my closet all year, and I supplement them with two seasonal wardrobes–spring/summer and fall/winter. 

The basic and seasonal wardrobes, once put together, can create endless outfits. Because I follow a color scheme that I love, everything matches everything else. If you’re curious about creating your own capsule wardrobe, Signe Hansen has an entire video on how to start. 

My Fashion Philosophy: CFEE

I never even had a fashion philosophy before I started capsuling, but being intentional about how I shop forced me to create a fashion philosophy. I summarize my fashion philosophy in four words: classic, feminine, easy, and a touch of edge. And ultimately all of these words must nod to the ethical and sustainable

CLASSIC

Channeling Audrey Hepburn’s timeless style is easier than you think!

The concept of classic elegance is something I value so much. Why? Because it’s timeless while at the same time being eternally interesting. Some of the greatest style icons of the Western world dressed in beautifully tailored yet effortlessly simple pieces (think of Audrey Hepburn, Jane Birkin, Grace Kelly, and Princess Diana—I could go on). Today, I’m heavily inspired by the quintessential French woman, and whether or not she actually exists, the concept of having well-constructed pieces that transcend time is one that inspires my closet. 

Jeans, a button-down shirt, and a good pair of shoes will never ever get old.

FEMININE

French Girl Style We Can't get Enough Of - STYLE REPORT MAGAZINE

Much of today’s fashion is androgynous, which I honestly love on other people. It’s cool and Scandinavian. However, I find myself maintaining an air of femininity in my closet. This manifests in the form of flowing silk blouses, pearls, the occasional ruffle or floral print, and of course, pink—I’ll never stop wearing a beautiful pale pink.

Fashion blogger and YouTuber Audrey Coyne does a fabulous job of constructing feminine and timeless outfits. She’s shaped my closet so much. And who can ignore Jeanne Damas? She’s the epitome of French girl fashion.  

EASY

/var/folders/pq/0ppqbdqd3wlcypl7hygfy56r0000gn/T/com.microsoft.Word/WebArchiveCopyPasteTempFiles/6cef564008eed8d100e65fce35e78064?width=1024

Ease is essential in any wardrobe created with the intention to last. Whether or not I’m intentionally avoiding the piece, I find that if wearing it makes my life harder, I just won’t reach for it. The paradox is that a truly easy piece probably wasn’t easy to find (in that I couldn’t just walk into the mall and purchase whatever I saw). Ease and wearability post-purchase require research and intentionality pre-purchase. 

EDGE

The leo flats are out 🐆💥 similar (mainly ethical) options can be found by screenshotting this image and opening it in the @liketoknow.it…

Edge adds an element of interest in a wardrobe that is mostly built out of classic and feminine pieces. Edge keeps me modern. Simple things like wearing a pointy-toe boot, having jeans with a frayed hem and layering jewelry create a subtle coolness that complements the altogether softness of my wardrobe. Signe Hansen and Anine Bing are my edgy inspo. 

A Quick Note About Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion

This capsule wardrobe journey has shown me the importance of caring about where my clothes come from. The documentary The True Cost reveals that the textile industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world; it could easily be the least ethical industry as well. Caring about quality, the earth and people is something that I can accomplish based on where I shop. I’ve purchased 90 percent of my capsule wardrobe secondhand, and when I shop for new items, I always shop ethical brands first. I’m no expert in this, but every small decision makes a difference. 

So…

Building a wardrobe is an ongoing process, even a capsule wardrobe. However, capsuling has made getting dressed in the morning exponentially easier. I highly recommend checking out Signe Hansen’s YouTube channel. Now, I love putting outfits together, and I love talking about how transformative this process has been for me. Fashion doesn’t have to be hard.  

A Window to My Soul

A Window to My Soul

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Mark 9:24 (NKJV)

I pray as I walk to work. I pray as I lie down at night. I pray when I am scared. I pray when I am lonely. I beg and plead to God as tears trickle down my cheeks.

Nothing.

I feel absolutely nothing.

My heart longs for an inkling–a touch from the Holy Spirit. Something. Anything.

But nothing is there. No spark. No flame. My soul feels cold, and I begin to doubt.

I have silently struggled because I do not want to find pride or honor in sharing my grievances. But Christians are called to live in community with one another, and I am only disadvantaging myself by not seeking that community.

So here I am. Letting myself be seen–weaknesses and all. Which is truly a weird and uncomfortable thing for me. But at the end of the day, this is not about me.

I was listening to a sermon from my home church the other day about the freedom we enjoy in Christ, and it was very convicting. My heart twinged as the pastor fervently spoke. “The Gospel doesn’t save you and I just so we can twiddle our thumbs and wait for eternity… Being formed into the image of Christ is absolutely a process. But it’s a process that should be evident in your life if you claim to be a follower of Jesus. This change is not an option, it’s not a preference. You and I cannot consistently follow Jesus and not consistently grow into his likeness.”

My mind blanked. Where is the fruit in my life? I struggled to find evidence of my growing love and relationship with Jesus. I was staring into the abyss of my own thoughts.

An Aside

Let me outline what I know to be true and the things of which I am sure, despite my doubting.

  1. There is a God.
  2. I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, that He died and rose again, and that He alone is savior of the world.
  3. There is a lot I do not know.

On Feeling

“Hear my cry for help, my king and my God, for to you I pray.”

Psalm 5:2 (NIV)

I feel very out of touch with God. And it is hard for me to even write this because I do not quite know how to put into words the hundreds of scattered thoughts going through my mind.

I think the thing that scares me the most is my lack of emotion. While some find comfort in it, feeling nothing is absolutely terrifying for me because I typically swing between extreme depths of emotion. And what makes it worse is that I don’t understand why it is happening. I don’t know if it’s some hidden sin or simply a test of faith at work in my life. However, I want to reach out to my community. I am not going to pretend I am unique in this struggle.

One request I’d like to make is this: Join me in prayer. Pray for those who are in a season of doubt, myself included.

Proverbs 11:14 talks about finding wisdom in the counsel of many.
“Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”

So consider this me seeking counsel. How do you deal with the chasm of nothingness in your life? My hope is to cultivate a little community that can share and grow together. Even if it is on this digital platform.

While I’m at it, I do want to ask how I can love and encourage all of you. Yes, within the community of believers, but also anyone reading–Christian or not. Comment below, if you’d like (anonymous is fine).

I am a listening ear for your struggles, just as you were for mine.

Thank you for reading.

Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart. Or Do.

Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart. Or Do.

No one likes to hurt. Our mind flees any sort of pain, whether physical, mental, or emotional. But I’m here to make a case for heartbreak.


Hello, meet my friend Heartbreak.

He’s kind of quiet. But also sporadic and unexpected.

His presence is pretty versatile. One day you’re looking at old photos or videos and he snuggles up next to you to enjoy the trip down memory lane. The next day he’s as harsh and biting as a winter wind. He doesn’t care what he does or says and he definitely overstays his welcome. But I love him anyway.

The point remains: heartbreak can be one of the most beautiful gifts life offers us. And I know that sounds odd, but hear me out. It is absolutely necessary for any sort of personal growth, realization, or clarity. It’s only after the heart shatters that you begin to truly view your situation for what it was. I found a great quote recently.

[With heartbreak] the only thing you’re mourning right now was the idea you had about what your future could be.

That’s it. That’s what it is. You might also be hurt by the words, the actions, the whatever. But the heartbreak is rooted in the realization that what could have been will never be. It’s a wildly uncontrollable concoction of disappointment, confusion, and hurt.

But ultimately, it’s the best thing we could have had happen to us. It frees us from illusions and fantasies.

In The Middle Of It All.

In The Middle Of It All.

“The unpredictable has found a hand to hold.”

Citizen, In The Middle Of It All

I’ve been getting a little overwhelmed by my mind recently. My tendency to internalize my thoughts and emotions has proven to add much more stress than needed to my life. I’m just so exhausted.

Exhausted by all the hurt my friends and family have experienced.

Exhausted by the feeling of being a passive participant in this life I’ve been given.

Exhausted by my own bitterness and anger and never ending questions.

Exhausted by the hatred and evil in the world. 

However, tonight in the midst of all the paralyzing thoughts and feelings stirring in my soul, I heard a still, small voice in my mind saying, “Do not grow weary in doing good.” God in His goodness immediately reminded me of that beautiful verse from Galatians 6.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

When it all falls apart,

When people hate you,

When you are utterly alone,

When you encounter those who defend immorality,

When you feel intimidated by the happenings of this world,

When those who profess to be Christians do not reflect Christ in any capacity,

When you feel like you can’t go on,

do not grow weary in doing good. 

Weariness of mind and heart makes sense for me right now. My life is on the brink of change. New things await, old things still beckon. Everything is in flux.

One song that keeps replaying in my mind during this season of life is “In the Middle of It All” by Citizen. I don’t really like the band, actually, but I love this song. My friend showed it to me while she was struggling with some similar things I am now. The band uses this song to proclaim despair and hurt and confusion. And then right before the chorus they sing, “In the middle of it all, I found you there.”

While it’s very clear the artist didn’t intend for it to be a spiritual song, I think God continues to show me more of Himself through things like this. In the middle of all my stress and anxiety and bitterness and resentment and excitement and confusion, I found Him. I found God in the storm of my life. And He alone is worth the pursuit. That alone gives me peace and calms the storms of my mind.