Striking a balance between the way I use technology, an increasingly inextricable part of all our lives, and the time I spend unplugged has given me a much healthier view of both. I have discovered how I can use technology in a way that enables the things that really matter to me: creativity, depth, and and connection.Read More
I’ve found that anytime I quit one social media platform, another rushes in to fill the vacuum. As soon as I stepped back from Facebook, Pinterest was ready to lay claim to all my newly-liberated time. Pinterest, however, posed a much different problem for me than other platforms had. If Facebook had been a stand-in for real friendship and connection, then Pinterest was my stand-in for inspiration and creativity.Read More
Through this series, I am trying to figure out how to use it in a way that enables, rather than disables, the things that are truly important to me. But before I get into the specifics of which platforms I've quit or which apps I've deleted, I wanted to outline some of the reasons behind why I'm doing it.Read More
When it comes to technology, I have one solidly foot in each camp: I’m half enraptured by the amazing advances we’ve made in the five years since I bought my first smartphone...and half ready to toss said smartphone into the Cumberland River and never look backRead More
I have over 700 friends on Facebook, but I can count on two hands the number of people who truly invest in my life. These few friends are the ones that make it beyond the online veneer and into the messy, tangled unposted details of who I am.Read More
Hey Lane. I’m writing to you from your first anniversary. A whole year of marriage has passed, in delightful and unexpected ways. Here are just a few things for you to look forward to.Read More
I’ve always found birthdays to be a great time for reflection. Since this one is happening just a few weeks before we pack up our tiny apartment for a cross-country move, it amplifies the feeling of a new beginning. Below, I’ve put together a list of goals for this year—things I want to accomplish alongside ways I want to approach life in general.Read More
Because the truth was, it was difficult to remember the last time I’d sat down and made something meaningful. I hadn’t carved out that space in my schedule. I hadn’t left myself the margin that creativity requires. It had been so long since I’d tapped into that side of myself, I’d begun to forget something I always considered a defining part of who I was.Read More
Remember my new year's resolution? A couple posts back, I said that I was making it a goal to spend more time putting pen to paper and creating things. This year (unlike resolutions of years past) I have good things to report almost three months later. I've been able to work on a ton of new projects, including the one pictured above: a monthly calendar collaboration with artist Erin Connally.
Our idea was to design a monthly calendar that was as beautiful as it was functional. The result was this print, which features my calligraphy and an original watercolor design by Erin. We were inspired by the new beginnings of spring, along with 'ikebana'—the Japanese art of flower arrangement that celebrates simplicity, beauty, and discipline. May your April be filled with all these things and more!
Available by clicking the photo above or right here on my Etsy shop.
When I was a kid, I valued comfort over everything else. I refused to wear jeans, preferred my hair out of my face, and wore the same threadbare floral dress (and matching headband) almost exclusively for an entire summer. My mom begged me to try something else, but I felt my most beautiful when I wore that dress.Read More
Hello, 2015! One of my (many) New Year's resolutions this year is to spend more time putting pen to paper. For me, that means creating new hand-lettered designs, taking more custom orders, and collaborating with other creatives around town!
Feel free to check out my Etsy shop! If you have a design or project in mind, shoot me a message at laneharbin [at] gmail [dot] com so we can dream up something beautiful together.
Happy Halloween! Without fail, my halloween routine looks like this: a) waiting until the last minute to come up with a costume, b) spending little to no money on said costume and c) panicking. It's a cherished, time-honored tradition for me.Read More
Here's a rare glimpse into the inner-workings of our home. Since Thomas is a grad student, his days don't end at five the way mine do, so we've struck up a deal: he takes care of coffee and breakfast in the morning and I'm in charge of making dinner in the evenings.Read More
Normally, I prefer to capture my memories in writing but I'm choosing to bid summer farewell by revisiting the photographs from our first season together. I love these little moments of love, community, and adventure that we've collected over the past five months. I never dreamed it would be so sweet.Read More
after dressing out for p.e.
haven jones was walking outside, alone.
approached from behind.
by someone yelling,
“look at those booty shorts. wooo hooo.”
to which haven replied, “gurlfriend. these ain’t
no booty shorts. now watch it before i go kanye
up on you”
did i mention there were 6 of them?
and one of haven.
and they were bigger than her.
she said she felt strong.
she said she has heard this is the
group of girls that bully you.
then ask, “you gotta phone?”
“what kind is it?”
haven was prepared to say,
“i have a droid” .
they would not want to steal a droid.
Our dating relationship started and ended on a motorcycle. The end was on May 17th, our wedding day. We hopped on a motorcycle and rode off (well, as far as we could get before we ran out of gas) as husband and wife for the first time. The beginning was three years ago today: September 26th. On the Thursday before our first date, I'd spent the entire night at the Girl Talk concert. In the process of dancing (and, okay, elbowing) my way to the front row, I had been happily drenched with water bottles and tangled in toilet paper that had blown in ribbons by a leaf blower. Finally home and ready to collapse on my bed, I noticed a plain white envelope propped on the keyboard of my computer. My name was written on the outside in blue ink, but I couldn't tell who it was from or where it had come from. I tore it open with a gulp. Inside was a card that read, “Would you like to go to dinner on Monday night at 5:30?" It was signed Thomas. I stared at it for a moment then let out a single, sustained scream until my roommate rushed in to see what was wrong. I showed her the note. She raised one eyebrow and pointed to the wall of advisory sticky notes we kept on our bathroom wall. Most of them were practical bits of wisdom like, ‘Always relay a compliment but never an insult’ and ‘Expect to have your cigarette lit.’ But down at the very bottom, I had written ‘The first date is free.’ It was our policy to give courageous boys one chance. I knew what I had to do.
It wasn't that I didn’t like Thomas. Actually, I adored him. It was my sophomore year. With him, those first months of fall semester had been filled with endless adventure: skipped classes, road trips, late nights and live music. My freshman year had left me exhausted from spending time in the wrong places and with the wrong people. Sophomore year felt like a fresh start. I had a group of three close friends and I finally felt like I had things figured out. The four of us would cut class early every Friday afternoon, meet in the parking lot, and crowd into the car bound for Columbus or Atlanta or Birmingham. Traveling across state lines with them gave me the most peculiar feeling of having become the person I wanted to be. Those wild weeks of early fall fit so perfectly with what I wanted to next three years to look like. I didn’t want to risk losing them by taking a chance on Thomas. I don't think I fully believed that things could get better than that. Three years and two wedding rings later, I'm so glad I was wrong. Fortunately, I wasn’t able to let my hesitation get the best of me: I had to yield my personal feelings to the authority of the Post-It Note. So, I said yes to September 26th.
At 5:33 on the Monday of the date, I was still waiting on Thomas. I tapped my foot in the courtyard. In the window above me, my roommate Victoria scanned the horizon with her binoculars from our second-story window. I heard her pounding on the window behind me before I even heard the purr of the engine. When I looked out at the street, I saw Thomas pulling up on a motorcycle. I heard muffled screaming from the building behind me. I didn’t know where Thomas had gotten his hands on a motorcycle. I didn’t even know he could even operate one. But I did know that Thomas was prone to extravagant gestures when he really wanted something. I could tell he was relishing my confusion as he strutted up to me with an enormous grin on his face. I tried not to let mine show. Handing me a pink helmet, he helped me onto the back of the bike and revved the engine for effect. It stalled out. He started it up again with a bashful look back at me and we rode off. As we shot across a two-lane road that ran parallel to a stretch of farmland, I wrapped my arms tighter around him, leaned forward and whispered, “You know you need a license for this, right?” He laughed it off and never gave me an answer.
Thomas slowed the bike down and turned to our surprise destination: a park situated in the middle of rolling pastures. Leading me a along a path, he settled at the base of a tree overlooking a field where people were walking their dogs. He pulled out a quilt, picnic dinner, and a dozen misshapen cookies he’d made himself and we sat down to eat. I had always enjoyed being around Thomas. Usually first dates put a stranglehold on my nerves but with him, conversation was easy and enjoyable. We lounged there in the grass, nibbling our cookies and telling each other stories. There was an ease between us that felt strange on a first date. My previous boyfriends and crushes had been only that. I’d never experienced friendship blossoming into romance before. All my past relationships had been either short-lived or painfully dragged out. I knew that something wasn't working, but I didn't know what. Sitting there with Thomas in the park, amazed at how natural it felt to be on a date with my best friend, I thought I might have figured it out. A couple bites into our sandwiches, a dog came bounding up to us. Delighted, and hoping to demonstrate the chemistry I had with children and small animals, I opened by arms to let it adore me. Instead, it swallowed my sandwich in one gulp and sprinted away.
It was the best first date I’d ever been on. And the last.
Happy first day of fall, folks! This season is, without a doubt, my favorite part of the year. And it's not because of the proliferation of pumpkin-flavored treats. It's the huge emotional upheaval that the drop in temperatures always seems to bring with it. All it takes is the smell of a burned out fire for the events of autumns past suddenly come swarming back to you in vivid detail. It's how that first fall breeze carries memories of every fall that came before it, creating a weird mix of nostalgia, longing, and possibility.
I have more playlists devoted to fall than anything else – that's right, even breakups. So, now that summer is officially over, I'm ready to crank my mix CDs to full-volume and take a drive with my car windows rolled down and a sweater on. I live in Texas now, so that dream might still be a couple weeks (or months) away. Historically I've found the best way to usher in a new season is to adopt all it's rituals until the weather follows. So grab a cup of hot cider, cozy up with a blanket, and put on on of the many fall mixes linked below.
1. GOOD MELANCHOLY. For when you're sad and want to be sadder. Listen to this one during a thunderstorm, with your window open and eyes closed.
2. TX. For crossing state lines. Listen to this one on the highway at night.
3. LONG SEPTEMBER. For when someone you love is really far away. Listen to this in perfect sync with whoever you're missing and it will be like you're together again (almost).
4. AUTUMNAL BLISS. For walking outside to the first cool morning of autumn. Listen to this in headphones while agressively crunching leaves underfoot.
5. 7 REASONS TO DROP OUT. For six weeks into the semester. Listen to this while packing a bag, throwing on an overcoat, and skipping town without leaving a note.
6. OLE SEPTEMBER BLUES. For gently bidding summer farewell. Listen to this one during the strange in-between of summer and fall, when your heart says boots but the weather report says sandals.
7. FALLING FAST. For falling in love in the fall. Listen to this when you finally realize that it's happening.
8. FOR LATE FALL. For preparing to hibernate all winter. Listen to this while thawing your cold feet against someone else's warm ones.
I used to have a sticky note on my laptop that read, “Stop hitting refresh. You are not one of Skinner’s rats.”
That’s exactly what I felt like, sitting there on Facebook. Like I was a hungry rat pushing a lever, waiting for a food pellet to drop. Or, more accurately, for that tiny red bubble to appear. I’ve been using Facebook since I was a freshman in high school. In my small pre-college program, housed on a college campus, we were given college email addresses during our first year there. Though it’s difficult for me now to remember a time before my mom and little sister had free reign of social media, Facebook used to require a .edu email to sign up. So, with the help of my loophole, I did. Do anything regularly for 8 years and it becomes a habit. A less diplomatic word might be 'addiction.' Your brain develops neural pathways based on rewards from your behavior. Because my brain is saturated with endorphins when I see that tiny red bubble floating at the top right side of my homepage, I will continue to push the lever.
I have over 700 friends on Facebook, but I can count on two hands the number of people who truly invest in my life. These few friends are the ones that make it beyond the online veneer and into the messy, tangled unposted details of who I am. It’s in the weaknesses and imperfections of real life that friendship has a fighting chance. Facebook strips us of those. Online, we can edit, retouch, and erase until we have the perfect digital persona. I was spending an absurd amount of time curating my digital life, under an imagined pressure to create an online persona that somehow captured my best qualities and hid all the worst ones. Without any cracks in our digital facade, it becomes difficult for anyone to get through to the person behind the profile picture. And honestly? I’m not sure how many of us really want them to. Nowadays, we are faced with a confounding paradox about relationships: we are lonely but afraid of intimacy. We want connection without the demands of friendship.
My problem with Facebook came into sharp clarity when I found myself using other people’s lives to feel better or worse about mine. I was weighing my happiness against an endless stream of empty content from people I barely knew. I was jealous, prideful, dismissive and obsessive (all at once). I was using real people as spare parts to support my fragile ego. I was using Facebook as a stand-in for real community. And I was relying on what amounted to gossip (Facebook posts, albums, profile picture swaps, relationship status changes) as a substitute for taking time to ask my friends about the real hurts, sorrows, and celebrations that were happening in their lives.
We are made to long for good things: connection, community, affirmation, and acceptance. The path to these things, however, is very difficult. With Facebook, I thought I'd found a way to get a cheap hit. In notifications and red bubbles, you can find instant relief from the hard task of growing and sustaining these things in our everyday lives. The results are brief and unsatisfying. The truth is that to achieve any of these good things in the way God intended them requires hard work and sacrifice. To find community means letting go of your selfishness. To find connection means relinquishing convenience. To find affirmation and acceptance means understanding where your true value lies. I've tried to use Facebook (and sites like it) to satisfy these intense cravings, but it only seems to make me yearn for the real thing more. God has intentionally built these desires into us. Things like loyal friends and good conversations are treasures to us here on earth, but also reminders that perfect understanding, connection, and acceptance can only happen in heaven. These impulses are us longing for a home that isn’t quite here yet. But, when I see flashes of home in deep friendships and rich conversation, it brings me a little closer to the person I was meant to be. Not the painstakingly-crafted social celebrity that Facebook made me into, but the girl underneath with all her cracks and imperfections and heartache, but also with a tremendous capacity for joy and loyalty and love. That's the person I want my friends to know. And Facebook was standing in the way.
So I quit. I’m still experiencing a kind of phantom limb syndrome. Before my Google homepage has even loaded, I find I have typed ‘fa’ into the search bar, a disturbingly routine holdover from nearly 8 years of Facebook usage. At the first flicker of boredom I feel when writing or designing, my browser is open and I find myself dully looking at my bookmarks bar for the little blue f, only to realize that it’s gone. Now, I talk to fewer people. I’ve traded comments for conversations and photo likes for phone calls. My 700 rapidly dwindled to less than a dozen. I’m finding that the smaller number brings with it sweetness and depth — not in spite of, but because of the extra effort it takes. There are a finite number of people you can truly know and be known by in a lifetime. I want to love mine well.
Our apartment is tiny.
It is barely 600 square feet, with one bedroom and half a closet. Most of the day it is completely dark because no natural light can find its way in past the hedges and neighboring buildings. There is a half hour between 6:30 and 7 where our bedroom floor experiences it’s first and only slats of natural light during the day. Thomas will regularly walk in from a rehearsal and find me curled up in a patch of sunlight that fills the two feet between our bed and the window. I will usually have arranged our succulents in a circle around me so that we can all take advantage of the light. Five of our six indoor plants have died so far and I’m not holding out hope for the last one.
Our kitchen, affectionately called “galley-style” by the realtor, is so narrow that it is nearly impossible for two people to occupy it at once. When you open the dishwasher and the silverware drawer at the same time, they are directly above and beneath one another, which makes unloading the dishes incredibly easy and everything else very difficult. While cooking dinner, I once opened the oven door to pull out a hot dish while Thomas was washing dishes at the sink. It wasn’t until I realized the open oven door was less than an inch from his ankles that I realized the urgency of the situation. “Don’t. Move. A. Muscle,” I whispered, eyes wide with fear. What ensued next was a scene straight out of Indiana Jones: one twitch of Thomas' calf would have triggered a life-threatening booby trap. I carefully maneuvered the scalding hot metal pan to the stovetop while trying with trembling hands to avoid singeing Thomas’ leg hair. Though Thomas escaped unscathed, I don’t know if either of us have fully recovered.
I was warned that living with a boy was one of the biggest adjustments I’d make when we got married. Somehow though, with Thomas, the transition felt seamless. There are parts of his daily routines that still amuse and confound me: the shower ritual that takes 26 minutes and includes a combination of both standing and sitting with different water temperatures assigned to both, or the desperate cravings he sometimes gets at 11 p.m. to bake and then eat an entire cake. But, besides being the love of my life and our family's spiritual leader, Thomas is my best friend. Living with him is easy. We've stumbled into dozens of other difficult adjustments since we got married and it has not all been easy or effortless, but even when those hard times happen, Thomas will always the roommate I want to come home and tell all about it.
Because I lived in the dorms for four years, this is my first apartment. It’s the first time I’ve had furniture that wasn’t specially designed to repel liquid, stains, and (presumably) extended lounging. It’s the first time I’ve been able to light a candle without fearing a building-wide fire drill. It’s the first space that really feels like it’s mine to fill with fresh flowers, cutting boards, copper pots, and dying succulents. Even though this first apartment is wildly, comically flawed, I love it. It will always be our first home together. It will be the one I will remember Thomas carrying me across the threshold of at 1 a.m. after driving for 12 hours to get there. It will be the apartment where we learned our first lessons of marriage: how to navigate our own selfishness, how to sacrifice for one another, how to pray together, play together, and calmly discuss the merits of paper towels versus dishrags. It is the first place where we were profoundly confused by each other. It was the first place that we felt truly, deeply known by each other. It will be the apartment where we first began to love each other — not in the way we thought we loved one another while we were dating, but with the vulnerability and intimacy and barefaced rejoicing that only marriage could bring.
Thomas and I regularly discuss the details of next apartment. Since he lived in this one for an entire semester before I arrived, our next home will be the first one we pick out together. We dream of an open floor plan, high ceilings, and huge windows situated in a loft apartment high above the downtown of whichever city we’ll be living in. in this dream, he can bike to work and I can pour a cup of coffee and sit down to write at a huge desk spilling over with natural light. Our demands might be a little steep for our next place or even the one after that. But no matter where we end up moving, this ridiculous, dark, tiny apartment will always be the first home we shared and the beginning of our story together.
When I wake up every single morning and lay in bed moaning, “I CAN’T DO IT. I CAN’T GET UP,” Thomas gently opens the blinds and strokes my hair and then sings Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ at full blast right into my ear.