I remember the first time I felt drawn to Beth.
We had a class together in our first semester of the counseling program at GU. The professor asked a question and Beth spoke up from the front right corner of the room - her voice carried, and although I don’t remember a single word she spoke, I do remember each word that came from her mouth was dripping with grace, wisdom, and understanding. She’s that woman. The kind you feel authentically drawn to. The one you want to spend time, real time, with.
Beth captures beauty and strength in an unshakeable way. She doesn’t mess around with the whole “love does” thing. When Beth loves, she loves. And on top of it all, she’s incredibly smart and witty as hell. I was so ecstatic to have the opportunity to interview Beth for our very first H&H Journal series. I sat with her in her intentionally curated abode, atop Spokane’s South Hill, and asked her a series of questions she has so graciously shared with us.
Everyone, meet Beth.
How do you spend the majority of your time? Give us a glimpse into your day to day.Depends on the day, but my early mornings are almost always spent at the Starbucks near our house, reading, praying, taking my best shot at mindfulness. I also try to get a good walk in every morning. There's something about moving the body and getting the blood flowing that helps me stay more present. I also try to wake up mindful of receiving something from the day, whether it be from a poem, scripture, spoken word from someone else.
I work as a therapist a few days a week, so after a long day at the office, I have a deep need to externalize my internal process. Usually I do this by writing and partaking in some sort of physical movement to help expand and connect my physical, emotional and spiritual states.
When I'm not at work all day with clients, I'm with my kiddos trying my best to be a present mom, which I feel like I've been recently failing at most days. My youngest, Junia (2 1/5 yrs), is currently potty training and has gotten into the habit of pooping her pants and smearing it all over the floor and everything else in reach - even you got a little taste of it as I was scrubbing poo off the carpet when you walked in the door (haha!). It has been a fun mom season, to say the least...
What do you do with your emotions that accompany this feeling of failing as a mom?
I go to therapy, talk to other mom friends I can trust, and reach out to friends who I know won't judge me. When the emotions come in and I reach outward, it helps bring things that I tend to over exaggerate in my head back to reality, and it brings an element of humor to the table that helps combat the shame. I also try to stay clear of social media to avoid playing the comparison game as well.
What kinds of things feed your soul?
All the "R" words, like redemption, reconciliation, restoration. Things that I can always find hope in. I've always loved old houses for this reason - seeing a space that has been let go, but holds so much potential for beauty and good.
There's a word, pentimento, and it means the presence or emergence of earlier images, forms, or strokes that have been changed and painted over. I love this word. Master painters used to use and reuse canvases, painting new images over old ones. The pentimento effect occurred when, over time, portions of earlier paintings or versions of the existent painting began to emerge, resulting in art as amalgamation of the artist’s various efforts of expression over time. This phenomenon happens in us, too, I think. We continually take on new habits, beliefs, resolutions, ways of being, etc. And yet our former ways of being do not really altogether disappear, but rather become integrated, offering us the gift of ever deepening wholeness.
I also love things of quality: food, furniture, bags, clothing... things that you know have been intentionally crafted and thought through. Music goes along with this. I'm obsessed with a band called Over the Rhine. Their music, particularly their songwriting, has walked me through inner experiences I otherwise would not have known how to navigate. As a couple they have covered so much life ground and written about it honestly in a way that has helped me untangle pieces of myself that previously felt locked away. I have realized through my experience with their music what power art and music have to call people out of cutthroat competition/performance and back to our true selves. It seems to me that we need this call now more than ever, and in this sense it really does seem to me that art will save the world.
My kids feed my soul. I know this sounds funny, but I love theirs smells, even their stinky breathe that seems to get stinkier and stinkier the older they get.
Friendship is another big one. I love being with friends that I can be free with - ones that I can jump from having a deep conversation with to being spontaneous and ridiculous. Just experiencing the vastness of life with friends is freeing for me.
What kinds of things make you feel empowered?
Connection with people, especially those that speak life into me. I feel like this a deep need for most, and we thrive when we have it.
I feel empowered anytime I'm brave. I've been convicted recently about not speaking up when I'm afraid. I'm really trying to move past the fear and talk more about things that may be controversial, because I'm realizing that I have the opportunity to say things in a way that maybe people haven't heard before.
I also love nature and feel incredibly empowered when I'm in it. Cliff jumping, swimming in remote places, climbing tall things...
What has drawn you or continues to draw you toward H&H?
Number one, my friend that I love makes it. Number two, I feel like there is a huge difference between artifacts and stuff. Artifacts tell a story about a time, and you can learn from them. I feel like H&H will serve as artifacts down the road, speaking to the idea that we can make things that are intentionally connected to our humanity. Having something made my someone else's hands that I know and love, I can choose to invest in one H&H piece over a hundred other bags made by people or machines that are so far removed.
H&H serves as a reminder of connectedness for me. There's an element of humanity, in that making things with natural resources is inherently human. I love that I know where each piece comes from, and the process behind it all is beautiful to me. I want my possessions to have meaning like this, beyond just their physical existence.
What are some of your main sources of joy?
Again, I go back to connection. I experience joy most when I experience a true connection with myself, God, or others. And it can even be in the simple things, like eating a good watermelon, finding nourishment in my faith when I experience God moving in ways I know could only be Him, or experiencing a moment of resonance (especially with my kids).