life // to understand waiting and rest

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After surgery a friend prayed over me, doesn’t every great story start this way, it was a prayer for rest and it was also a prayer to actually understand rest.

When you are forced to actually slow down, all of the sudden the moments of busy really do stand out. Prior to surgery I managed to spend 4 days at Disney World, shoot 12 mini-session, drive to PA/DE to photograph a wedding, and prep my house for mom’s arrival in the span of about 18 days. Needless to say, surgery was the nap I so desperate needed, but it wasn’t actual rest. When you find yourself in a place of rest that is healthy, you also happen to learn the absolute limits of your needs. Let me be the first to say it’s terrifying. The timing, however, is liturgically perfect. It’s almost like I planned my surgery around the church calendar. Enter the season of advent, a time of waiting and anticipation.

When I slow down, my brain tumbles over and over again with the what ifs. They aren’t quite as bad as the if onlys, but they still leave you in a state of questioning. Question upon question without answer upon answer. Combine this with a period of time that is spent on the couch with a set of crutches and then I attempt to begin a period of active mental avoidance. Let’s admit it, We all do it. I mean, why else are we all so dang busy? I generally like to think it’s not because we really love having no time to think and is probably because we don’t want to be forgotten/unneeded and we really really really don’t want to have to think, about most anything, but we also don’t really want to be known either. And we wonder why our anxiety runs at an all time high. We see anything we can’t control as a failing. So what happens when we stop and we wait and we anticipate.

We wait in quiet anticipation knowing, fearing, that we can’t save ourselves.

In our weakness, we find grace and in grace we learn hope. Hope takes us to the unknown and a place were we find a peace we have never known. This peace required conflict, it requires conflict with ourselves. It involves active engagement and fighting for truth and transformation. This isn’t about sitting on our laurels just hoping the answers appear, it is the realization that weakness is our gateway to create change.

Sometimes, that change might not be so much so outwards and be very much inwards. Over the course of the last month I physically couldn’t do much for myself which made me want to pull my hair out, good thing I have a mop of hair on my head. For two weeks I depending on other people to drive me around, feed me, or just be around. Ann would check in every night to confirm that I, in fact, had not fallen down the stairs in my nightly activity of crutching up said stairs to my room. For someone who thinks she can legit do pretty much everything, except hike, it was mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting because I thought I was a superhuman who would heal like such. To go from shooting a wedding and 3 photo sessions in one weekend to being exhausted after spending 15 minutes in Trader Joes, well let’s just say it’s an eye opening moment. Some expectations fall short and on the other side, there are people who who are so above and beyond that is blows your mind a little. And so it goes. And so I wait with much anticipation.

So the realization of baby steps instead of a sprint. Being present with a purpose. And embracing every moment of rest that comes my way and the directions that will comes with it.

“for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory” – Book of Common Prayer, Evening Prayer, Rite II


For those who are like, wait a second, back up, surgery…what?! Quick version: Way back when (in May) while living my best life now (on vacation), I was hiking in Glacier National Park (it was Day 1 of said vacation). I was trekking along planning how I was going to send mom and dad photos and be like “BOOM! you think I can’t hike but look at me and my rockstar hiking self.” Then something happened, there was a pop, I played it off(ish) and danced at a wedding, and a month later I had a diagnosis of a not-so-hot labral tear in my hip. So, apparently I’m living “my best I might be 80 life now” and so I had surgery to fix it in November. Woot!

life // thirtyish

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It was a plan. Said plan wasn’t very ambitious. Actually the plan was pretty simple, since it was just … write about turning 30. Then, keep writing. I’ve been 30 for almost six-months and here if the first post thus far. It could be the last one, honestly, I don’t even know. However, that doesn’t mean the millions of thoughts and stories go away. No, they just continue to flood into my brain and circle round and round and since I’m mean, I’ve come up with a super awesome solution, nothing. Never let it be said that I’m a controlling, over-achiever…except for all those who think that anyways. Then I think, done is better than perfect so in the words of Hamilton:

Rewind.

29! Woohoo! The year of greatness and excitement and crazy travel and all sorts of other things that I told people would happen because I was going to live it up. Or at least, that was the plan and since I’m really only good at planning other people’s lives, we can guess that maybe this isn’t the way it went, but it was pretty darn close.

Crazy Travel: Porter Family vacation to Greece. Two weeks with the family in a foreign country. We all came back alive. So, #victory.
Greatness: Hamilton downtown at the Public Theater. Hamilton uptown at the Richard Rogers Theater. (There will be much more on this later).
Excitement: Eight months of unemployment. Four+ temporary jobs. One new for real job. #raiseyourmouseears
All Sorts of Other Things: Worked on five weddings, Taylor Swift, Mumford & Sons, the Pope, IF:Gathering in Austin

It looked exactly the opposite of what I thought it would be and somewhere along the it became amazing and incredibly terrifying all at the same time. It made me want to laugh, cry, and/or hyperventilate all at the same time. If I am totally honest, I probably did all of those things simultaneously. How different would life be if I could instagram that image? No one needs that image ever. Between the trips and the concerts and the hustling to pay my rent, sometimes it was just about being vulnerable enough to admit that I couldn’t buy my own chicken taco. It was rough and my take away (besides God bless a full time job) was that I wasn’t making any lofty plans for 30. Just go with the flow and whatever happens, well, happens.

Then I decided to write.

Only then I didn’t. But I’m walking the marathon right now, doesn’t mean I can’t make it to the end…or you know, start. 30, flirty (not at all) and thriving (most of the time), a bit late.

dear america, you sent for me.

Dear America,

Remember when we were the land of the free and the home of the brave. That whole, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” We are a place where immigrants wrote the laws, established our systems, and laid the ground work to create the country where we live (#alexanderhamilton).

Immigrants, they have moms and dads and family and lives that they are trying to make better.

My great-great-great-grandparents on one side were Jewish immigrants to the United States at a time when it wasn’t so popular to be Jews. It’s lucky for them that they made their move from Europe in the late 1800s/early 1900s, because if they had waited until the late 1930s, there is a chance that the country would have told them the borders were very closed. Because Jewish refugees in World War II weren’t sexy, at least, not until 1944 when mass holocaust couldn’t be denied.

Refugees, they have moms and dads and family and lives that are in such danger that they would rather sleep on the highway in a country that doesn’t want them then remain where they are.


Magnus Wennman / Aftonbladet /REX Shutterstock

These are the people that we live in fear of. Approximately 38% of the refugees look like this. Small children, under the age of 12, who long for home and only remember the war and violence that has surrounded them. Another 50% of refugees are women. They are fleeing from the homes they have made, to nothing. They run away from a world that can care less what their religion is, death will come eventually. Girls are taken from their families, assaulted, and often left for dead. They sit at fences and wait for countries to let them in. They look for someone who sees their pain and invites them in. They look for welcome and they instead receive a wall.


Magnus Wennman / Aftonbladet /REX Shutterstock

Refugees, much like these families, have been settled in the U.S. for years upon years. Since 9/11 and the rise of terrorism-based fear, not a single terror attack has been carried out by a refugee. In Paris, we watched as eight French Nationals killed over 100 fellow citizens in the name of chaos and bloodshed. Our fear makes us want to hide. And in moments like this, all I can wonder is when did our fear become bigger then our faith. As we are caught up in our fear we have forgotten what makes us great. In an effort to keep all of the perceived evil out, we ignore the command in Isaiah to “learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s case.” We cover our fear and our ignorance in the cloak of patriotism.

Our safety is never guaranteed. Terrorism, car-jacker, serial killer, spree-killer, burglar, rapist, school-shooter, stray bullet. The way to keep us safe isn’t building higher walls, it isn’t arming every able-bodied person in the U.S., and it damned well isn’t ignoring the INSANE amount of violence in the world. It is seeking justice for those who cannot speak for themselves. It is helping our neighbors and heaping kindness on their heads. It is being global in a world that wants us to sit in our comfortable houses with our overabundance of stuff. It is creating a legacy for which we many never see the fruit.

Legacy. What is a legacy?
It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see
I wrote some notes at the beginning of a song someone will sing for me
America, you great unfinished symphony, you sent for me
You let me make a difference
A place where even orphan immigrants
Can leave their fingerprints and rise up
Hamilton

You sent for me.

life // sleep, dream, and social sexuality

I tend to have really weird dreams…like the time I was stealth dating Ed Sheeran and only Ann was able to figure it out, it was weird. That is only kind of relevant to the story right now.

Last night I had a dream.

It was one of those happy, wonderful, wake up feeling awesome, while also simultaneously wondering what is wrong with your subconscious sort of dreams. As I told a friend, it was an alternate universe dream of my dating life, which is to say, in the dream I had one. It wasn’t some crazy jetting off to Paris with Ed Sheeran situation, it was figuring out who between two people I really actually liked. As both actually wanted to spend time with me, intentional time. It was an email that was like, “hey let’s hang out and here is a list of 20 (I’m guessing on the number) things that I think we would have fun doing.” [This is where real life and dream Whitney swooned, a man who plans things]. It was being asked absurd and unnecessary questions because someone just wants to have a conversation. Pretty much, it was dream world. It wasn’t “oh he’s the hottest man in the room, yes please!” and it wasn’t “he’s a Prince of England, thank the Lord,” it was just an email and really really dumb questions that even dream Whitney was like, for serious…please stop.

And then I woke up.

And, not gonna lie, I was totally in this happy endorphin place that not even close to my normal morning feelings (not even a little bit).

Then, I made it a moment about the decline of relationships in society. It probably doesn’t help that yesterday I spent the morning reading about the church and social sexuality, but that is a norm so my euphoric, happy, dream brain was never going to win this round. It led to the thought of there is a problem that has become the norm and that is cross-gendered compliments have all but disappeared as people are terrified to find themselves accidentally in a relationship…which, you know, can’t really happen but apparently somewhere out there a boy said a girl looked nice and found himself wed the next day. Poor sucker. And so mutual appreciation fizzles out and the lack of connection awkwardness is in. Self-confidence falls, introspection rises, and in the end, no one is feeling the happy gleeful feelings of being appreciated…instead, you often just feel used.

I have a friend, and he has (unbeknownst to him) become one of those people that I just think the world of. He is a “turn your frown upside-down” sort of person. Actually, he reminds me a lot of my baby brother, so I was bound to think “well aren’t you the bestest.” It not crazy to get a “just because” hug when it seems like your day has been hard. Conversations can bounce between food, life, who he’s currently dating, and the evangelical church…but mostly food. I’ve made macaroons for his sister, he’s mocked my inability to cut bell peppers thin enough for a veggie and hummus plate (ugh chef-types). But at the end of even the briefest interaction, it’s hard to not feel good. It’s the feeling of someone who is actively willing to engage you and appreciates what you bring to the table, which is not my kitchen knife skills.

What is worrisome, is how little that feeling occurs in day to day life.

We want to know each other and be known. Connection and intimacy is craved, and not just in a “let’s date and get married” sort of way. It shouldn’t be taboo to have an extra ticket to the ballet (welcome to my life) and invite a guy friend to go along just because it might be fun. Likewise, just because you have dinner with someone, and they pay for the bill, doesn’t mean you are magically dating. If that was the case, there would be a whole lot more lady relationships in the world because the girl squad in my life regularly foots the bill for each other. Somewhere it became okay to only know those who are just like you, gender-wise. And with is we lost something special. We lost the feeling of feeling appreciated and wanted. We now only feel sought after when someone is trying to ask you out on a date, or if that need a favor. It is common place to hear how women dress up for other women (cause we’re judgey like that) and because unless a guy is making a move, he probably isn’t going to say that you look nice…so you play to your audience.

So instead we live in the magical euphoric dream world. The world where there are legit a million Ryan Gosling “Hey Girl” memes, celebrity crushes, and “color me swoon” coloring books (which is the best Birthday present ever).

Because in dream world, no one will accidentally marry you off for appreciating someone.

life // a sexy lifestyle blog (ha!)

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It is so easy to get caught up in the comparison game. Who has the better job, the cooler stuff, the biggest parties, and the best “lifestyle” blog…you know the ones, where every outfit, party, craft, house, life is perfect. I’d say I wish, but I’m not sure if I do.

Let’s talk about my “lifestyle blog.” I spend about 30 days per year photographing something (vacation, families, a wedding or two, my own projects, etc.); there are another 15-ish days to hosting shindigs and happy hours. A smattering of days are focused on the crafting arts, read: spray paint, and a full week is spent on my devotion to sending tax-deductions to the goodwill. If I really buckled down, I could throw that image out there, life would be perfect, the world would envy my great luck, and people would want to be me. But then there are the other 300-ish days of the year.

The rest of that time, oh team, is spent on the following ideas/things:

  • societal constraints toward women and how women don’t win, and that is a problem
  • singleness. the never-ending, poke-my-eye-out discussion of the church
  • discussions and articles on dating culture, not just the church! everyone’s screwed! it’s nice not to feel alone.
  • figuring out how long I can hit snooze before I’m actually late to work
  • lunch
  • why everyone should go to counseling
  • pinterest: cocktail ideas! DIYS! make-my-own clothes! (because #insane)
  • the evils of high fructose corn syrup
  • singleness. (I kid you not — so bad it’s on there twice)
  • realizing the older I get the less I like people and their personalities, can I get an amen on that one
  • gushing about whatever my most recent obsession is
  • the internet
  • hulu, netflix, abc family app, usa app, cbs app, on-demand (it’s a problem)

…and let me tell you, that isn’t sexy lifestyle blog fodder. Except, it actually is life, so maybe it is. It will always come with a pretty picture, cause I’m me. Parties will always be styled, because again, me. But you also might get a rant about how periods (not the punctuation kind) are not offensive, and the NYC MTA can shove it, or that medieval prostitution led to really weird modern viewpoints on sexuality within the church. I may gush about the ballet in one sentence and roll my eyes about the opera in the next. I will definitely talk about being bi-racial. I can love and hate my hair within the same breath; it’s a great prop…it’s the devil, depends on the millisecond.

One day there may be a cool recipe or crafty project or photo shoot or shopping favs, and the next day there might be an article about…well, periods.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring (since it’s come up twice, if you guess periods and advertising, you might be totally right. Sorry to the .2% of men who stumbled across this, but it just might be the day for an expanded education).