Why You Should Start Journaling

Let’s be real. How many times have you gone to a general store or even target and just admired the journal section? The array of designs and potential-holding blank pages always is enticing. But it’s usually not alluring enough to drop $20 not knowing what the heck you’d actually use the journal for.

A scared freshman in college, I remember picking up a blank notebook my first morning in a new reality. I wrote down a raw prayer and ever since I have filled up journals of other thoughts, feelings and ideas. Coming from someone literally writing about writing, you may be thinking “of course she likes to journal, she has a blog for fun”, but here are three reasons I think everyone should at least attempt to mark up one of those beautiful bounded sets of paper.

Stress Relief : Venting all your emotion to an inanimate object is for some reason insanely therapeutic. No filter needed here. There is full freedom to word vomit without consequences. In times when speaking isn’t beneficial to a situation, I’ll journal. Another way writing can be a means of stress relief is by writing down prayers. I spend my mornings writing out some of them; physically putting those requests down and leaving them to God ushers in a sense of peace to start my day.

Reflection: One of my favorite things about a classic pen and paper situation is that it’s concrete. No accidental touch of the trash can on your phone is going to delete it or new update going to make your journaling app history. Sometimes when I need a reminder of God’s faithfulness, I’ll flip through one of my older journals and see how God provided. His response was often different that I imagined, but it’s always so much more perfect. Even in the prayers I forgot about, it’s beautiful to be able to reflect on how God’s hand in our lives is personal and intimate.

Future: Your future self will thank you for the time you spent reflecting; reflecting can be a lunching pad as a reminder to yourself of who you want to be. I read this article about goal setting. It explained how writing your aspirations and dreams down statistically leads to achieving those desires at a much higher rate than those who don’t. How much more simple can it get in increasing your success? I think we can all sacrifice this little effort for the eventual payoff.

Furthermore, I have been writing for my future husband. I can’t wait to see his reaction on our wedding night giving him a notebook of entries about my college thoughts on marriage from his now wife. (But shh don’t spoil the surprise!)

There are both personal and professional benefits to taking a portion of time out of a day to concretely write. Not only will your writing skills improve, but putting things like prayers, memories or goals on paper has its benefits. So, how are your going to fill your blank pages?

Sunday Brunch: MPLS Edition

Writing this is frankly just going to make me want to book a flight home so I can order pumpkin pancakes in a place that actually feels like autumn. If you have the privilege to enjoy brunch in this crisp, beautiful time or any of our other seasons, check out some of these spots.

The Copper Hen: I obsess over this rustic, farmhouse-chic restaurant. If you’ve visited me in Minnesota, odds are that I have taken you here. It’s a place to show off because of the attention to detail in the decor, friendly staff, & if you come back later in the day (or not) indulge in the skillet chocolate chip cookie.

Eggy’s Diner: Shameless plug for how close this is to Wooddale Church Loring Park, but the updated American comfort food is worthy of a top three position. Order their Nutella crepes with bananas and strawberries and try to argue with me that there isn’t a God after that!

Glam Doll Donuts: Technically not a brunch place, I still had to include this donut shop. While I hesitantly admit to trying their mac & cheese donut, their other artistic, gourmet sugar creations are almost too pretty to eat.

Minneapolis is full of casual yet delicious brunch places and the city is not short of beautiful pastry shops and coffee hangouts. I hope you enjoy brunch in my favorite city as much as I do.

 

Cleansing

Now taking my phone tubing down the Salt River was for sure not my wisest decision. It’s one of those choices you make knowing your hindsight may hate you for it, but the snap story was apparently worth the risk.

After 5 hours going down the river, we thought ourselves and phones made it out alive. One friend losing her tube and left to hold onto a tree in the middle of a rapid was something we could all laugh off; another friend’s phone at the bottom of the river right as we were exiting for the day, not so funny. Thankful that I even had my phone, checking for water damage didn’t even cross my mind and to my luck that night my precious iPhone glitched a slow death. RIP those hard earned snap streaks.

Aside from the petty social media stuff, what was I going to use as an alarm to get up for work the next day? How could I possibly get a good workout in without music? And you can bet I’m going to get lost in this city without directions.

I’m currently on day 6 without a phone and honestly, I don’t want my new one to arrive in the mail. First because those new monthly payments are going to be a reminder of my stupidity of bringing a phone with me down a river and second because life is just so much simpler without it. Not only have I been so much more productive this week, but I have noticed people so much more than when I am consumed with looking at a screen throughout my day. Now, going phone-less is not what I am advocating here; I love the creativity of social networks and, heck, I hope for it to be my profession someday, but this forced cleanse was what I needed.

It’s funny because earlier that week I had mentioned to my roommate that I was thinking about taking some time away from social media. I love God’s humor. He probably knew I wasn’t about to do it on my own.

Maybe you need to unplug too. It could just be a day leaving your device back in your dorm or deleting one specific app for a time that seems to pull at all your attention. Let God open your eyes to things you otherwise wouldn’t notice. What is He waiting to show you?

Leaders Need to be Readers

If you told me a year ago that reading would be something I enjoyed doing, there’s no way I would have believed you. Reading was something I did half-heartedly before a class discussion so I could get a participation point for saying something at least on topic. But I believe that valuing reading should not be a subjective question; if you’re wanting to grow personally or professionally reading is something you need to be doing. Reading opens your mind to new ideas and expands your view of the world.

I want to share with you some books that have shaped my thinking about things like career development and faith in these Leaders Need to be Readers postings. The first book I picked to share is one I read through this summer with my mentor called  Next Generation Leader: Five Essentials for Those Who Will Shape the Future by Andy Stanley.

Andy Stanley is the senior pastor of the campuses of North Point Ministries. While Stanley approaches this topic with much of his leadership experience being in the church, the principles and content is universal for any leadership role. The author uses simple language to describe the essential characteristics of courage, competence, clarity, coachability and courage. Stanley includes many questions to allow for self-reflection and I found myself physically writing my thoughts in those spaces of the book.

If you’re a young Christian looking for a concise, encouraging read, this book will help motivate you and push you to process through the leadership role you hold now or will hold in the future.

 

 

Sunday Brunch: PHX Edition

I may be biased, but I think I get to live in two of the greatest cities during the calendar year. Fortunately, Minneapolis and Phoenix both have a brunch scene worth bragging about. I may discredit myself here by saying I don’t like egg dishes and I would be in complete understanding if you think I should be the last person to discuss brunch, but anything that started as a delicious batter, count me in.

Phoenix

While Snooze and Matt’s Big Breakfast seem to be the monopoly of the brunch picture in Phoenix, I want to advocate for some of the underdogs here.

Chestnut: One of those casual, yet instragram-able-spots-in-every-corner kind of place. I found myself with a beautiful plate of chicken and waffles (in which I consumed even before I could get that picture). With their focus on farm-to-table dining, support of other local businesses and a view of Camelback mountain this should be on your list of places for an after church brunch.

Fàme Caffe: Fresh squeezed orange juice in a mason jar. Do I need to say anything more? This spot not only perfects food presentation, but the New American food doesn’t disappoint in freshness either. This trendy atmosphere is catered with crayons. Yes, crayons. Let your creative flags fly as you get to draw on the tables and wait for that french toast with local berries from this family-owned joint.

Morning Glory Caffe: Prepare to wait to get a spot on the patio at this open-air spot on South Mountain. But fear not; there is a beautiful farm to walk around with local vendors making for a gorgeous morning outdoors. Trust me that this seasonal, market menu is worth the wait and the unique dining experience is a must-try.

Stay tuned for some of my go-to brunch places in Minneapolis.

Mentorship is a Must

Mentorship is a non-negotiable in regards to career development and spiritual growth. My experiences both being mentored and being a mentor have had significant impact on my life and I would not be half the person I am today without people far wiser than me deciding to invest their time, teach me about their experiences & push me to be better.

Career Mentorship: Find someone that is in your dream job to get coffee with on a regular basis. Ask them about the joys of their job and about the hard parts. Inquire how you can start preparing today for the future and action steps to ensure success in their industry. Take it all in; after all, they are the experts.

Spiritual Mentorship: Following Jesus was a walk never meant to do alone. It is crucial to have a mentor relationship of trust that allows for full vulnerability; it should involve raw conversation that becomes a source of accountability. You can easily pick someone that will give you advice you want to hear, but pick someone that will tell you what you need to hear. I’ve had mentors walk with me through sin struggles, pray with me in the midst of loss and encourage me in the highs.

Be a Mentor: No, you’re not the best at what you do, but you are one step ahead than many other people. Trust me, you know more than you think you do. Make time to take someone along with you and invest in the future generation.

Mentorship doesn’t just happen. You’re going to have to put in the work to find the right fit. Kind of like dating but without the possible heartbreak (score!) because more than likely they’ll be thrilled you thought of them. Maybe it’s a leader at church or a professor at school, but go invest in yourself by finding that relationship in a mentor. You will be better because of it & who knows what that connection could lead to someday!

Hello!

I am geeking out writing this – my first ever blog post. This is partly because I have no idea what I am doing aside from the handful of tutorial videos I’ve watched (thank you, Youtube), but mostly because of my excitement for this platform; I have the joy of sharing with you on a more intimate & personal level.

I am finally putting all hesitations aside of not being good enough to do something like this and casting out the fear of judgment, letting go of the reality that this won’t be perfect. I ultimately just hope to share my heart.

I am hungry learn and I hope you stick with me on this journey. From discussing some of my favorite leadership books to sharing some of the best brunch places or digging into pursing Christ in a college setting, the maybe perceived randomness all stems back to my heart for the people that stumble across these entries. My desire is that you would feel more inspired to grow in your ambitions and find adventure in the places you call home because of these writings. Enjoy!

XOXO,

Aly