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Driving in the Fog – a Lesson in God’s Peace

The morning of my planning retreat for 2020 it was extremely foggy. I live in the city, so typically there’s not low hanging fog the way that you would expect in the country. But on this particular day there was thick white fog everywhere making visibility only about an eighth of a mile or so – you couldn’t even see a whole block in front of you. 

And so as I was driving to work that morning I was struck with a thought – there’s really only two ways to drive in fog- stressed and anxious about what it is that is out there that you can’t see or thankful for the visual quiet that allowed you to see only what you needed to see. 

When I pulled up to a stoplight I could see it clearly, as well as the other cars in the intersection. I was never in any danger. But the rest of everything that usually clogged my commute was stripped away – no billboards, no storefronts, no lights far up the road. It was just peaceful. 

So as I was driving through this fog I begin to reflect on how living the Christian life, a life entrusted to God, is so much like driving through this fog. We can only see what we need to see it any given time, but how much do I frequently let that be an impetus of fear and anxiety instead of an opportunity for deep peace – knowing, without a doubt, but I can see you what I need to see, no more, no less.

It was a peaceful revelation, but it was also a punch in the gut. 

Why was I allowing God‘s grace of only giving us the unobstructed present to be a source of such anxiety? Why could I not trust that I could see what I needed to see? 

It was so fitting that this drive was the starting point for my planning retreat for 2020. 2019 was a year decidedly marked by a lack of peace. It got so bad in the last months of the year that I begin to doubt my plan to write about peace this January because I couldn’t imagine how someone who sought peace but found it to be so elusive could ever share thoughts on it in any kind of helpful way. 

But the fog showed me that I lack peace because I haven’t really wanted it – on God’s terms. If I want to embrace it, it’s right there. God is taking care of everything – limiting my vision with the love of a father so that I need not be overwhelmed, but there I was in the midst of the fog imagining what grotesque monsters and giants could be lurking just outside the field of my vision. The peaceful place God has prepared for me had become a nightmare – stalked by the worst imaginings of my troubled heart.

I had been actively rejecting peace. It brings tears to my eyes to say that because I felt that is all I’ve been seeking, and therein lies another problem – the very hunt for peace had become yet another source of crippling anxiety for me. 

I let the anxiety about the fact that I could not find it fester and infect other parts of myself. I drove through the fog peopled with all of my worst fears, beliefs, and thoughts, putting them there myself with effort when God has already provided a small bite-size chunk of reality for me to deal with.

So now I still know that I am probably not the right person to talk to you about peace, but I think for the first time I really understand how much peace is acceptance of what God gives us in the present moment. 

And so that’s my quiet fight for 2020 – to not fill the fog with things that may or may not be there, but to live in the space that I can see because God has allowed it to be in front of me.

Here’s to embracing the peace God has for us in 2020. Let’s do it together, shall we?

shop peace:

Shopping with Gratitude this Holiday Season

Shopping with Gratitude this Holiday Season

If you’re the United States, there is a kind of disturbing trend at the end of November every year. We spend the fourth Thursday of the month (the end of this week) in gratitude and togetherness on our formal “Thanksgiving” holiday, and then spend the fourth Friday of the month shopping crazy sales on the retail holiday of Black Friday, which seems to shred every ounce of goodwill built-up the day before and make it as though none of it ever happened. 

And though I’m pretty sure that you’re not the person trampling another human being over discounted TVs, I think that the consumer spirit of the holidays affects all of us in one way or another. That’s why I think it’s worthwhile to talk about how we can take all these gratitude practices from the month of November with us into December, specifically, but also beyond.

The shift at the end of November is palpable. And even though the majority of the buying going on is for others there still is this kind of gross flavor of “gimme gimme” that permeates the whole thing. (Have you noticed that, or is that just me?)

Now, I’ll level with you. I own a retail shop. I, frankly, need people to buy Christmas presents from my shop so that my kids and my employees kids will not only have Christmas presents themselves but electricity and healthcare. I’m not here to tell you not to shop. 

But I think it’s worth thinking about how we shop and where we shop this holiday season (and I promise this still goes back to gratitude – stay with me.). 

First the how:

When you buy gifts for someone, what do you think about? Do you think about what they like? Who they are? What they do? What they’ve done for you? 

There can be a lot of considerations that go into selecting and purchasing a gift, but I want to suggest a unique way of buying your gifts this year. As you think about each person that you are buying a gift for, I would like you to think about, maybe even make a list of, all the reasons that you were grateful for that person this year. Think about how they enrich your life and why.  Then, select a gift for them from a place of gratitude for them as a person and not overwhelm or frustration at having to buy another gift. 

I think this practice can really revolutionize your personal experience of Christmas shopping this year, even if it doesn’t change what you actually get for people. Then, as an extension of the exercise I also think it’s great to include a personalized letter or note with each gift explainIng the things that you thought about while buying the gift for them and the reasons that you are grateful for them. Who wouldn’t want to receive that? 

 Next, the where

{Obviously, I’m not a disinterested third-party in this conversation but I think that there’s a really great case for shopping small not only during the holidays, but year-round.}

First of all, when you shop with a small operation, I can guarantee you that a real person feels a surge of gratitude at your order. Instead of  financing .0001% of a big company’s TV ad with your holiday purchase, you can literally pay someone’s grocery bill. There’s a lot of wonderful things the big companies have to offer but I think it really pays to look at what small options are available first. Not only will you nurture gratitude in another person’s life, but the gratitude that they feel for you will often filter through in the packaging, attention, and products that you receive. 

Secondly, when you shop small you are able to show your gratitude to a company that enriches your life in some way. If our content this year and even before has mattered to you, part of how we know is 1.) when you tell us and 2.) when you shop with us. Ultimately it is your shopping that keeps us making, writing, photographing, and supporting you all through the year.

 All in all, shopping small is a relationship built on gratitude.

Here at Pink Salt Riot we get orders out extremely fast and with free shipping because we know your time is valuable and, let’s be honest, I forget to do things until the last minute on the regular and I feel you

We also put 3 to 5 extra free goodies in every package and Jeni, our shipping coordinator, initials every packing slip to let you know that she put the personal touch on your package herself. 

We invest in bringing you content that really enriches your life year-round, not into big ads that will go viral or flashier things like that. We just want to invest in you and we humbly ask that you will invest in us and other small businesses this holiday season.

So to that end, here is our sales schedule for the weekend, no trampling involved, and you can shop from the cozy comfort of your bed instead of freezing outside at 3am. 

  • November 29- December 2: 
    • Buy More, Save More sale! (excludes sale items & Joy Box subscriptions)
    • 10% off orders over $20 with the code savemore20
    • 20% off orders over $50 with the code savemore50
    • 30% off orders over $100 with the code savemore100
    • 40% off orders over $150 with the code savemore150

We will also be including free gifts in every order (regardless of total) placed on Small Business Saturday, November 30!

Giving Tuesday, December 3: 20% of all orders will go toward Mary’s Meals, a charitable organization that provides food at schools throughout the poorest parts of the world. They are built on the principle that education is one of the most powerful agents of change and that disadvantaged kids will stay in school longer if they are able to receive a good meal there. They have one of the lowest overheads of any charity I am aware of and do phenomenal work. I would strongly encourage you to look into supporting them with any year end charitable donations you may be looking to make. 

Wherever you shop this holiday season, be it with us or someone else, I hope you shop with gratitude for all the people involved – the employees, the creators, the people you’re shopping for. Especially when time gets short and tensions run high, try and come back to gratitude. 

As always, I’m praying for you and your intentions this Thanksgiving.

With joy,

Jill

Daily Gratitude Habits

Daily Gratitude Habits

What does it look like to live a grateful life? There’s the stereotypical, happy all the time, say hello to the caterpillars on the sidewalk, movie version of contented thankful living, and then there’s reality. 

Grateful people still get grumpy. Grateful people can still struggle.

Gratitude isn’t a magic bullet, but it’s a wonderful tool for rearranging our priorities and helping us grow closer to God and other people by appreciating them as they should be appreciated. 

Here are five ways that you can live gratitude every day:

Turn jealousy on its head and be grateful instead of envious. 

We’re just gonna jump right into the thick of things here. This is hard. This is really, really hard. But I think that one of the most powerful ways we can live gratitude on a daily basis is using gratitude intentionally as a tool in the fight against comparison. 

When we see someone else doing something incredible or looking amazing or creating something beautiful, whatever the case might be, instead of turning into jealousy, we can offer a short prayer of gratitude for the wonderful work of God and others on display

It might take a while before this feels organic (maybe a long, long while). But it’s still worthwhile to muscle down the jealousy that you might actually feel and say a short gratitude prayer instead. This is a modified “fake it till you make it situation” – my signature “pray like you mean it until you do” spin move. The more times you override your jealousy instinct with gratitude the easier it will become and the more natural it will be to turn to gratitude in these kind of situations. (This is totally preaching to myself x 1,000,000)

Appreciate boring things. 

Kids are so good at this. 

My son is so fascinated with science that he is constantly launching all kinds of facts at me about how many atoms are in things and the molecular structure of things that absorb water. Even boring things are actually really cool, because God designed every aspect of these things. It’s an amazing practice to sit and be thankful for air, and light, and gravity, and the world itself. When I wake up super frazzled, or let’s be honest, it’s my kids who wake me up which makes me super frazzled, I try and find five minutes to do this in the first part of the morning so that I can re-center.

Complement people. 

Complements are so wonderful. They make the person you complement feel good, and they are a concrete opportunity for you to express gratitude for something wonderful about somebody else. 

I try and complement it liberally as I can, even with strangers. 

Have you ever noticed how compliments sometimes mean more coming from strangers? I think part of it is the fact that you know they have no vested interest in you and so the impetus to say something must be extra strong for them to approach a total stranger and say something nice. It definitely makes everybody feel good. (It’s also an antidote to the internet FYI!)

Use a daily gratitude practice. 

It could be the worksheet we talked about last week from the Gratitude Resource Package (sign up at the bottom of this post to grab it if you haven’t) , it could be a benchmark of five complements to other people every day, or whatever other practice resonates most with you, but making some kind of daily commitment that is measurable can be so helpful in nurturing long-term gratitude.

You can also use a physical item to support your daily gratitude practice, like something from our Gratitude Collection.

In fact, today we are launching three new gratitude items + one super awesome bundle, all to serve as ongoing reminders of the importance of gratitude. The new items include 2 pieces (a limited edition necklace and some super cute stud earrings) with an image of open hands lifting up a full heart. I love the simplicity and beauty of that symbol because it encompasses praise, lifting our hearts up in prayer, and also speaking gratitude out of the fullness of our hearts. 

There is also a simple cord “Thank You” bracelet that you’ll see on your wrist throughout the day that will remind you to find something to say thank you for in that moment – a powerful way to use a piece of jewelry to keep you accountable to your gratitude practice!

Pray prayers of thanksgiving. 

Gratitude to God is what it’s ultimately all about. All that is good comes from him. Everything we are grateful for no matter what it is is the direct result of God moving. Dedicate a special prayer time every day to just being thankful. 

I like to do this in the evening as I’m going to bed. As I get more and more tempted by the closing of the day to give in to worry about what is still undone or what is coming next, I have found it so helpful to sit in gratitude with God instead.

To celebrate the launch of our new gratitude products and the work you’ve put in with us this month to grow in gratitude we are offering our brand new Gratitude Bundle on a super sale for the next 48 hours! 

All the products in the box come to $50 normally and sell as a bundle for $38, but for the next 48 hours you can get the whole bundle for just $30 – no code needed! It includes the new bracelet and stud earrings, as well as a lovely print and sticker all in a perfectly giftable box. 

How do you live gratitude on a daily basis? If you have any tips or tricks I would love to share them in our Facebook and Instagram stories so go ahead and comment to let me know!

With joy,

Jill

The Impact of Gratitude

The Impact of Gratitude

It may be a cliché, but we’re going to spend November talking about gratitude. I’ve written about gratitude in past Novembers, but I always did it with one eye on Thanksgiving and not with both eyes on all of every day life like I should have. November is a wonderful time to kickstart thinking about gratitude but if we let it go as the turkey wallows in our stomachs, we have rather wasted our time. 

Each November is a lovely opportunity to reconnect with our gratitude in such a way that we are able to treat it as a kind of “gratitude new year.” Just as we revive our commitments to various areas of our lives each January, I think that November it’s a wonderful touch stone to have in place to revive our practice of gratitude. 

I love this quote from Oprah Winfrey:

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

It’s true, isn’t it? When we have a level of contentment with life—not complacency, but contentment—a lot of the stress and anxiety of “leveling up” dissipates.

If it wasn’t so sad I would find it kind of comical the way our society tries to embrace both gratitude and constant discontent. Mainstream shops are full of signs that say things like “choose joy“ and “blessed and thankful” and popular blogs ooze with articles about thankfulness and being present.

But self-help books and TV shows run rife with promises about achieving something, whether it’s organization, enlightenment, the perfect relationship, or even the life changing magic of tidying up, that will finally make life enough. Enjoyable. Whole. That feeling you’ve been looking for is right on the other side of your next achievement.

It’s so worthless. Just like a relationship won’t fulfill you if you are not already fulfilled as a person, cleaning out your sock drawer or getting your dream job will never make a miserable person into a happy one. It just doesn’t work that way.

We control our responses to the situations in front of us. And one of the responses we can choose is gratitude.

Gratitude matters because it allows now to be enough, making joy in the present moment attainable. No longer will our eyes be stuck on the future when what we are finally hoping for will come to be, but they are fixed in the present, where gratitude feeds the grace that God has available to us.

Gratitude allows us to be at rest. And as we get ready for the busiest time of the year for many of us, it’s well worth it to take some time to nurture gratitude and protect our rest. 

God deeply desires that we rest. It’s right there in the 10 Commandments when He asked us to keep Sunday holy and set apart. In the spirit of the Old Testament, I don’t think that this is an arbitrary commandment – it gives us what it is that we actually need. God commands rest because as human beings we need to rest. And it’s so much easier to rest if we can be grateful for where we find ourselves and not trying to squeeze in one more day of hustle to try and get ahead (oh boy, #preachingtomyself right here).

This month we’re going to be talking about ways that we can build habits of gratitude that can carry us through this month and beyond. I’d like to start by asking you what your greatest struggle is with gratitude. What is it that makes the daily practice of gratitude easy or hard for you right now? 

I’d love it if you leave a comment and let me know. 

Let’s do this together.

with joy,

Jill

Making Space for Creativity

Making Space for Creativity

It has been such a joy to spend this month talking about creativity with you. After several years of struggling with what exactly I’m supposed to say in communicating with all of the wonderful people that follow my work this month has been a breath of fresh air for me as well. The clarity that the Holy Spirit has given me through this process has been a tremendous gift and all of you that I’ve reached out to me with words of thanks and encouragement for the good that this month has brought to fruit in your life has been the icing on the cake.

As a final reflection on creativity I want to talk a little bit today about how we make space for creativity. 

Our world is loud. 

There’s so much going on, and we have so much information thrown at us every day that it can be hard to get in touch with the voice inside ourselves which is essential for creativity. Here are a few ways that I have made space in my only for creativity and hopefully they will get you thinking about what you can do to not only give yourself space to be more creative, but cultivate a greater sense of peace throughout your daily life.

  1. Limit social media. I’ve noticed a huge shift in my anxiety level as I have severely ratcheted down my social media use, but that said I have done this by using tools that support me in healthy social media use and not total eradication of social media. I use the Facebook Newsfeed Eradicator extension for Google Chrome that gets rid of my Facebook newsfeed so that I am not trapped in endless scrolling. I also use the time limits available on my iPhone to let me know when I have spent 30 minutes on Instagram and then I log off for the day. I’m not personally on Twitter, but if you are, I would personally recommend you stop. I know some people like it, but that of all social media channels is a cesspool of negativity and anger. Your creativity doesn’t need that. (Feel free to disagree, but find a healthy way to limit it if you choose to stay active there.)
  1. Limit sound. I try and make as much of my day silent as possible these days. Now, ambient noise from the people that I share my life with is not included in this – I’m talking about manufactured, additional noise – TV, music, podcasts, etc. We enjoy music as a family some throughout the day but by and large I try and keep things quiet. My children’s imagination flourish and I have space to become aware of my own thoughts.

  2. Clean up. It’s hard to be creative in a messy, chaotic space. And this is coming from the girl who is chronically a mess. I know it’s an old stereotype that creative people are messy, chaotic, and flighty, but these things don’t truly nurture creativity. We practice a version of minimalism that is a work in progress, but helps simplify tidying so that I don’t spend my creative time cleaning the whole house (most of the time).
  1. Gentleness. Be gentle with yourself, just as much as you would be gentle with your own child. Our creativity is a version of ourselves as a child and it doesn’t respond to admonishments and competition. It responds to love, space, and room to play.

Those are just a few of the ways that I have created space for creativity in my life over the last few months and they’ve made a great deal of difference. When we limit what we consume, in all manners, we are able to better direct what we produce.

But now is the month draws to a close it’s time to make some decisions. Was this month of exploring creativity just a one off for you? An opportunity to try some new things but ultimately not make any big life changes? It’s OK if it was. Change isn’t right for everybody at the same time and you’ll always have these materials and emails to return to shed the time be right in the future.

But if these resources and words have touched something in you that you want to continue to nurture it’s time to commit. After today I won’t be showing up in your inbox talking about creativity anymore. (We have an awesome new topic planned for next month that I’m equally excited about, but it’s bittersweet to let creativity find its way into the archives.)

If you’re ready to commit to really changing the way you go about your day today life to create more space for creativity and infuse your faith life with creativity there’s two things I’d like you to do. 

First of all, I want you to download and print this commitment card. It’s the size of a business card (and pretty!) so if you print it and cut it out of the sheet of paper it will fit in your wallet, pocketbook, or the corner of your mirror. Put it wherever it will remind you of the commitment you have made – to live with greater creativity in all areas of your life. 

The second thing I’d like you to do is consider selecting a physical item to support your commitment to creativity – an item from the Creativity Collection or one of our brand new creativity bundles – that can serve as an every day reminder of the revival that you were seeking in your life. That’s the whole reason we make these products. This is what they’re for – to reinforce the work the Holy Spirit is doing in our lives and draw our mind constantly back to the commitments we have made.

With Joy!

Jill

If you have friends that you think would benefit from the Revive Creativity resource package and the other content we are putting out this month, I encourage you to point them to this link: https://pinksaltriot.com/creativity/. There they can sign up and receive the packet right away in their inbox and follow along with the email for the rest of this month and beyond. 

Healing Creative Wounds

Healing Creative Wounds

I think it’s unfortunate how often we throw around phrases like “Sarah is so creative.” Or “Maddie doesn’t have an athletic bone in their body.”  These kinds of labeling situations, especially amongst the young, can create beliefs that define our perception of what we are capable of. One of my great creativity teachers, Julia Cameron, emphasizes how important it is for us to move through these preconceived ideas we have about our creativity if we’re going to actually be creative. 

If you are one of those people that were affected by negative reinforcement of your creativity throughout your life, I’m sorry. 

That shouldn’t have happened. 

Whether you can’t draw to save your life or can’t sing a note or couldn’t tell a sonnet from a haiku, it was unfair of whoever said it to make the general statement that you were not creative. Even if you believe it is true.

I think it’s so important that our faith creates a place for us to grapple with these damaging beliefs about ourselves and move through them. Connection researcher Brené Brown also talks extensively about the “creative wounds,” her interviewees often speak of which go on to affect them throughout their life.

All this to say that you don’t have to listen to all the voices from your past, even your own, when it comes to your creativity – or anything for that matter. You are not defined by the words that are said about you, but it doesn’t change the fact that they can hurt. I think that a huge part of the healing process is to accept both of those things and hold them both in your heart no matter how hard it might feel.

I was one of those kids that was just always the “creative one.” My life has been defined by music, theater, fashion design, graphic design, photography, all culminating in my career as a creative director. I’ve never met a creative endeavor I didn’t want to try my hand at. 

But subsequently I was also labeled the “not athletic one.” It was the whole cliché 9 yards – the last one picked for teams, lowest grades in gym class, and I think I cried through every one of the six soccer games I attempted.

It was only as an adult that I allowed myself to believe, even just a little bit that maybe being “not athletic“ was not a defining fact about me. Seven months after I had my second child I signed up for my first 5K. Obviously not a feat of massive athletic prowess, but definitely more than I had ever attempted before. I trained all summer, faithfully following my couch to 5K running plan. Even on the morning of the race I didn’t know if I could do it and the memory chokes me up even now – because I did do it. I did what I had always believed was not possible for me even if it was for other people. I proved to myself that “not athletic“ was not a static truth about myself.

So if your version of my story is about being the “not creative” one, take heart. You too can prove to yourself – because you’re the only one that matters in the situation since God already knows the truth – that your non-creativity is not a static truth about yourself. Just as I have a body that is healthy and created by God and therefore able to run despite my lack of natural inclination to do so, you have a complex and beautiful mind that is all your own able to undertake feats of creativity in the image and likeness of God your creator.

So that’s all mushy and well and good and stuff, but what do you actually do if you have always believed that you’re not creative and now want to try and move the needle? You’d be hard-pressed to find a “Couch to Watercolor Florals“ training program, right?

Well, you’d be surprised. If you really would like to test your specifically artistic use of creativity then there is a wealth of beginner materials available. The biggest obstacle people face is the simple fact that it is a struggle for many people to allow themselves to be beginners. You’re early art is going to be bad. Your middle art is probably going to be mostly bad. And yes, even when you reach the later stages of artistic creative expression there is going to be a lot of bad art. And so being OK with that is an integral part of the process. 

To get started, why not jump on Youtube and search for some tutorials? Maybe test out a membership teaching platform like Skillshare that will let you learn lots of different types of things from lots of different professionals? (If you use that link for Skillshare you will get two months of premium membership free to test it out!) Creative friends are also a great resource. See if they will let you join in or observe their creative juices at work to get yours flowing. And last but not least, there’s always the trusty library. Check out a book and learn about a new skill that interests you.

But you definitely don’t have to jump into an artistic creative pursuit if you’re looking to dip your toes into creativity for the first time in a long time, or maybe ever. Throughout this month I’ve shared lots of non-traditionally artistic creative activities you might enjoy – photography, cooking, music appreciation, tinkering, and landscaping. You can pick one of these or another that appeals to you and get your feet wet. A simple book from the library on any of these topics will greatly expand your horizons and give you lots of food for thought.

And also, if you feel that you are harboring a creative wound from childhood, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is that you admit that and also reject the lie that it has superimposed on your life. God wants to heal all our wounds, whether in this life or the next, and that includes our creative wounds. Admitting what you have been through, no matter how small and petty the story my seem, and vocally giving those wounds to God and rejecting the lies attached to them can be a powerful agent of change in your life.

PS. If you have friends that you think would benefit from the Revive Creativity resource package and the other content we are putting out this month, I encourage you to point them to this link: https://pinksaltriot.com/creativity/. There they can sign up and receive the packet right away in their inbox and follow along with the email for the rest of this month and beyond.