Featured

My Mental Health Story

My Mental Health Story

WARNING: This story is about my struggle with self harm, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and depression. I talk about these things as they happened and from my perspective, some of which may be upsetting. 

​I have been neglecting my blog recently, because of an inner conflict in what I want to achieve with it, and questioning whether it is worth it. September is Suicide Prevention month, and I have seen several campaigns and social media posts discussiong the topic. With all the attention that mental health is now getting because of the growing suicide crisis, people are more and more comfortable speaking about it. This is positive for removing the stigma around discussing and sharing about our thoughts and feelings, but I can not help but notice a trendy aspect around mental health or people using it as an excuse to avoid personal responsibility. I wanted to make sure that I was not doing that. I wanted to make sure my story was told only to shine a light on darkness, and now, I think that it was my own narcism that was holding me back. I did not want to be viewed as a “poser” of mental health struggles, because I think of my struggle as being realer or more difficult than others which was kind of messed up. I could be stuck in a spiral of conflicting motivations and reasons for sharing my story. So, I am just going to hope for the best and write… Every single person alive has a struggle with the health of their mind at one point or another. Whether everyone recognizes it in the same way as their physical health or not, there is a lot that can be done when you find yourself in a mentally unhealthy place. All this to say, I would like to share with you all my mental health story up to this point in time. I hope it is helpful or enlightening in some way.

A​s a child I was very boisterous and loud. Whether that was because I was the second youngest of seven children, or just because of my “born personality”, I do not know. I do know that I was an annoyance to many people because of my constant need to be the center of attention. I would get in fights with my siblings, because I would not leave them alone or take no for an answer. This would lead to my hurt feelings and punishments from my parents for not being able to get along. My response to these hurt feelings and punishments was almost always to fight them. I think any objective look at my twenty four years of life would show you that I have been a fighter since birth. I have fought any and everything I have been told to do just because “it is what you do.” I hate the idea of mindlessly going through life letting others dictate your actions, thoughts, or motives. This can be positive in unveiling flaws in people’s ways of life, but it can also so easily turn into thoughtless rebellion. Around age thirteen, I began getting some negative attention for my mannerisms, appearance, and interests. I was, and still am to this day, an easy target for ridicule because I enjoy going against the norm and being the center of attention. Being a weirdo and the center of attention felt natural for me, but I did not realize how lonely it could be until around sixteen years old. 

My dad and I blew up in another fight about how I chose to present myself and the attention and people that I seemed to attract. I felt completely broken. I did not want to be a disappointment to my family, but I also did not want to completely change my personality and interests just to make my family and friends more comfortable. It seemed like a fight I would be fighting, alone, my whole life. And, that was unbearable. I cried out to God to show me a light at the end of the tunnel. I told Him that I needed a physical sign that I would not be going through my life like this, alone. I did not get an answer. That night was the first instance of self harm in my life. It was the realest battle with suicidal thoughts that I had experienced to that point. I did not go through with ending my life (clearly), simply bandaged the damage I had done to my body, and cried myself to sleep. I woke up the next morning feeling embarrassed for letting a disagreement with my dad cut me so deeply. I tore up the note I had written to explain the reason for ending my life into the tiniest pieces I could and then I burned them. I was a fighter. I did not want anyone to know that I had this weakness. No, I did not end my life which is what the enemy would have loved; I am sure. However, a seed was planted in that deep wound of loneliness that cut all the way to the core of my being. That seed was the thought that I was the only one who understood this feeling, that I was the only one who could keep this feeling at bay. The belief that once I ran out of strength it would take my life from me. I remember watching as the little scraps of paper that made up my “would be” suicide note burnt up and making the promise to myself that I would fight until I could not fight anymore. Then, it would all be over. This was the first lie that I believed that would lead me down a path of personal destruction. I believed that this burden was mine to bear alone. The moment I could not do that would be the end of this battle and my life.

B​eing the fighter that I am, I clenched my jaw and moved on. People’s opinions about me continued to play a part in my outlook on the world, and my heart began to harden as I further solidified that it was me against everyone else. I kept my issue with suicidal thoughts to myself for a while. I know I told my best friend about my struggle at some point, and eventually shared with my parents when I moved to St Louis my senior year of highschool. As I opened up more and more about my struggle with this issue, I began “working on it”. I put that in quotes, because it was pretty superficial work on my part. I started going to therapy in my first two years in college and was open and honest about what happened. My therapist at the time helped educate me on coping mechanisms for anxiety and depression, and those things did help me continue on with life. I also had very supportive friends and family that were always there when I called, which really does mean the world. However, I believed that at some point it was still all on me to handle, because they would never understand the depth of my issue in its entirety. I had a growing sense of loneliness. I would distract myself with my social life, fashion education, and my volleyball career. I would often turn to drinking to numb the overwhelming feeling of shame in what I was becoming and the pain of isolation in who I was. 

I​ had another issue with self harm my sophomore year of college which I can hardly remember now, as I was high intoxicated. I do remember it spurred me on in my next “fight.” That “fight” was against my alcohol dependency in trying to avoid the suicidal thoughts. (Again, I put quotations because it was more of a distraction, as it was a symptom of the deeper struggle and was not the real issue) I remember thinking, “Adam, you are losing the battle. Young you would never give in and give up so easily.” I truly looked at this battle as me against everything else. The growing shame of what I had done while drinking kept me in a spiral despite my attempt to white knuckle and just make it through the struggles I was facing. I viewed my mistakes and the bad things others had done to me as failures by me to be strong against evil. This stemmed from the lie that I was the only one in this fight and if there was a way to win, it would be by my own strength. So, I went through periods of complete sobriety just to fall into fits of depression and anxiety that led me to the abuse of alcohol and other harmful actions. 

M​y senior year things began to come to a head. It honestly is somewhat of a blur. I had some amazingly positive things happen, but also my lowest points. The details of these low points are vast and go off on their own tangents, so they can be stories for another time. The important point of these low points was that I had completely lost control. I was spending time in things that were directly destroying my mind, body, and spirit. The lie I had allowed to fester in my mind at the age of sixteen had sprouted new lies which had given birth to new lies. By the time I reached the second semester of my senior year, I did not know which way was up. It is truly bizarre to think about. I “knew” the truth, but I did not believe it anymore. It had been replaced with the lie that I was on my own, that my life did not mean anything beyond my accomplishments, that I could not be loved and understood fully, etc. I could go on with the thoughts that were springing up from these beliefs, but it is time for some good news. THEY WERE ALL LIES. 

I​n February of my senior year, I was hospitalized for suicidal thoughts. I had a third incident of self harm and came clean to my therapist about it a couple weeks after the incident. My therapist asked me to sign something that was later explained to me as an affidavit, which she did not explain to me. This gave up all rights I had to my own care. I was taken by police from her office to the emergency room where they took all of my belongings, put me in scrubs, and stuck me in an ER room for 8 hours. They allowed me to write down three numbers from my phone on a scrap of paper. I was allowed to use the hospital phone under super vision to call and let people know what was happening. None of which I had control over anymore. It was all in the doctors hands. While in the ER, a man who had been arrested for trying to jump off a bridge, and seemed to be disassociating, got in my room somehow and began to yell at me. I was already in tears and could not find the voice to call out to the nurses for help. The nurses finally heard him screaming at me and removed him. I had never been in such a situation in my life. ( I am truly spoiled.) It rattled me, and I have never been so afraid. The reason I was in the ER so long was because there were no open beds at the nearby behavioral health centers. Around 10 pm at night, a spot opened up. Little did I know it was in the highest acuity unit (I did not know what this meant when first told to me, but apparently that just means the people that are considered the most mentally unstable are housed there). I was in this awful, awful place for 2 and a half days (seemed like an eternity). My roommate sat on his bed and drooled, dead behind the eyes, and just stared at me. The nurses would come and escort him to meals and then escort him back to his bed, where he laid or sat there lifeless. Either the medication or his mental illness or both had left him completely incapacitated. I cannot remember his name, but I will never forget the sadness deep, deep inside his eyes. It was barely there, because he truly had no presence or personality outwardly, in his state. I know nothing of his story, but wow, I still send up a prayer every now and then that he found healing from his torment. I had many experiences with the other lost souls in that place that stick with me to this day. Another patient really did not like me. He was high energy and nervous all the time. He would yell about starting a bible study, but everyone would ignore him which tended to agitate him even more. One time, I was staring at him too long I suppose, and he screamed at me, threatening me and lunged at me. The nurses were so used to the chaos of this unit that they were unphased by everything going on. I was terrified and sunk further and further into the darkness and the thought that this was the end. Having no choice in what I could do, where I could go, what I could wear, or what I could eat sent me into a panic. I had never wanted so badly to not exist and just be done with it. It was too hard. I clearly could not handle life like others could. 

M​y family, being the amazing supportive and loving people that they are, immediately got in their cars in Kansas City and drove to St Louis as fast as they could. They were unable to get me out, because of the affidavit, and could only visit me there for a couple hours in the afternoon. I was so embarrassed that they saw me in this place, that they now might know the depth of my inadequacies. I remember even on their visits, me trying to make it seem like it was a misunderstanding or not as bad as it seemed. I was unravelling though. I was talking to my dad on the phone before bed time the second night and burst into tears. I told him I could not spend one more night in here, and that I was not going to make it. My father and I have had a really complex relationship. My feeling that he did not love me as I was, was often the thing that sent me down the path of suicidal thoughts. (I want to be clear I am not blaming my Dad for my struggle with suicide. I simply wanted him to express things to me a certain way. When he did not, I allowed it to mean things to me that were not necessarily what he meant.) That night he said very calmly and logically that it did not matter if I could not or did not want to be in that place another night. I had to. I had gotten myself in this mess, and I had to deal with the consequences. (This may sound cold to some but it was the truth, and I am thankful to this day that my father so staunchly seeks out and clings to the truth.) This sent me into a spiral of panic, however. I could feel the weight on me like one million pounds. I went straight to my room from the phone and laid in my bed sobbing. I worked myself into such a fit I began dripping in sweat and shaking profusely to the point I seemed to be bouncing off the bed. I remember trying to cry quietly, because if the nurses heard me and saw me in such a state I was afraid I would be forced to be sedated like so many of my fellow patients. That might be the most terrified I have ever been in my life. It felt like the final moments of a struggle that had been going on for ages. It felt like I had finally reached that point I had previously spoken of to myself. I will fight until I can not fight anymore; I would say. Well, I had nothing left in the tank. I had no justification or twist I could put on my story anymore to convince myself that I could make it through. I could no longer convince myself that I could fight and that there was a chance I could win. To be honest, I had not believed that for a long time, but now, I could not even tell myself that in an attempt to convince myself. I was completely broken. My body felt like it was literally trying to expel my awareness from its physical state. I cried to the Lord (in my head, as to not alarm the nurses) to finally show me that I did not have to fight on my own. That I was not alone, and that He was real. As tears welled up in my eyes, sweat poured from every part of my body soaking my paper scrubs and the sheets, and my body violently tossed and shook in my tiny hospital bed. I felt a finger rest on my forehead square between my eyebrows. My eyes snapped open, as it must have been another patient who had snuck into my now empty room; I thought. (My roommate had been discharged or moved that morning.) In that split second of me opening my eyes and seeing nothing in front of me (I still felt a strong warm finger pressing gently between my eyebrows, unmoving), I felt an orgasmic feeling spread from the point of contact through my face, head, and the rest of my body. I fell into a deep sleep. A sleep so deep I did not realize I was asleep until I woke up again in a full blown panic attack of sweating and shaking and labored breath. I called out again and the same thing happened. That happened over and over again until I saw the sun peak through my tiny hospital window up at the top of the wall by the ceiling. I woke up feeling rested somehow. I have no idea how long I slept or how many times I reawakened and experienced the touch of a hand that sent me back to sleep. I did know that I had gotten my answer though. I was not alone. I felt reinvigorated. It was time to leave that place. My nurse walked in that morning for my daily dose of medication and I blurted out, “I will do whatever you guys want for treatment and medication but, I need to get out of here!” To my surprise, (I had been pleading since the moment I arrived in that awful place to let me go) she tilted her head while looking at me square in the eyes and said, ” Ya you do not belong here.” I was shocked. They had said they wanted to keep me for at least four to seven days to better understand what dose of antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication I should be on. The doctor came in soon after and asked how I was feeling and how the medications were affecting me. I explained to him that I needed to get out of here, and I would take whatever recommendations he had for me, besides staying in this place. He told me he thought it would be unwise to not stay and really figure out how to fix the issue no matter how long it took. (He was really not having it and thought I was out of my mind)  I started to doubt what had happened to me the night before and whether I would be stuck in places like this forever. Even with God revealing Himself to me so clearly, I did not want to let go of the lies that I had decided to believe for seven years instead of Him and His promises. The nurses began advocating for me to be released and by that afternoon, I was greeted by four of my siblings and my parents in the lobby of the health center. 

T​his is only a partial story of my walk through life, but it is one that has most profoundly impacted me. Please understand that in between all of these events I had good times and happy memories. People are not all bad or all good. Good things can be happening alongside the bad, and God is good all the time. My story is not a self help formula on how to free yourself of mental illness, and definitely not a good example of how to best deal with mental health issues. It is a story of how my Heavenly Father made sure that I knew He was there from the beginning. It is a story of a boy (just like you or someone you know) who lost his way by believing a lie, and how a miracle plucked him out of that lie and firmly replanted him in the Truth. My story is miraculous when I look back, because I have truly never been alone. So all the struggles I have faced and will face are not my own. I have a Father who sent His son to carry those burdens for me and saved me from their consequences. If you have not met Jesus, and your burden is heavy; I urge you to confess your mistakes and lay them at His feet. He is faithful to forgive all sins and rid us of our burden and its death sentence. 

I​f you have already accepted Jesus as your Savior, but still find yourself in a struggle with suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, etc. then I would simply ask yourself first who bares that burden. If the answer is you, then hand it over to Jesus. That is literally the purpose of him dying on the cross for you. And, I mean you in the literal sense. YOU sitting on your phone, laptop, or ipad reading this. This is not a broad strokes gospel that is about the general human race although it is available to every single person. YOU still have to accept it YOURSELF. YOU have to decide if you are gonna white knuckle your struggle until it overtakes you, or give it over to God and reject the lie that you are alone. Please do not wait until it almost destroys you to do so… like I did. 

L​ast but not least, I want to make it clear that salvation in Jesus Christ is the only true and lasting solution to any struggle we face in this life. Therapy, medication, community, books, friends, family, hobbies, etc. can (not guaranteed) positively impact your life. Everyone’s situation with mental health may call for a different treatment plan and will look a little different. The only thing that I know, without a doubt, that gave me a chance at freedom from my mental health issues, (because I tried all of the above to rid myself of my struggle with mental health)  is the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life due to me making Jesus Christ the Lord of my life. He reached down and answered my prayer when He did not have to. This did not rid me of sin or struggle, but freed me from my sin and mental health struggle defining or having any sort of control over my life. It is up to me to lay my struggles and sin at the foot of the cross daily, and I have that choice because of the free gift of salvation that Jesus gives. I hope something in this story positively affected you. Hold on to hope. Breath. You are so loved. 

Adam Brewster

Featured

I AM NOT

Im not a victim

Im not quiet

Im not shy

Im not weak

I can’t handle it

I make mistakes

I should have known

I was told what would happen

I should leave it alone… i am being dramatic.

I am a MAN

I am a SINNER

I am a LOVER

I need to heal.

He hasn’t stopped, but stopped me.

I froze.

I am frozen.

This is my lions den.

I have been stuck there on that couch for 5 years.

I tried to forget.

I tried to maintain the person he was to me, to keep him near.

But i was angry.

I showed him.

I stole, I lied, I broke, I changed.

I got what was mine, since he got what was….

It wasn’t his. He stole, He lied, He broke, He….

He didn’t break, because he was already broken.

I was supposed to fill the cracks but i just fell right through them.

I didn’t break, i was already broken.

He filled the cracks, just to shatter the notion

That I had a man

Who loved me.

he respected me.

he supported my plan.

I had a MAN.

But What i needed was a SAVIOR.

A supernatural healer.

I found a redeemer.

What’s the use of a faker?

I am whole.

I am chosen.

I am saved.

I am sanctified.

I am not what i have done.

I am not what he did.

I…. am a child of the SON.

Featured

Right Now

When did we confuse self control with oppression.

We need to come to terms and make a confession.

We need to wave a white flag and call out succession.

We are the problem trying to become the solution.

We are the dioxide causing pollution.

So when will we change and call out for salvation.

Say no to ourselves and give up this stipulation.

Say yes to a God thats just asking for confession.

To walk in the light and run towards our emancipation.

Featured

Believing the Lie

How could I be so stupid.

Shopping around for idols like ok cupid.

Asking to be a part of “something more”

Filled with the fear of being a bore.

Don’t make me choose, God.

Im too afraid of what i might lose, God.

Please let me keep just this one thing.

Let me be your child and something more.

Everyone has there stuff, right?

Wait, its just a basic human right.

What’s wrong with a little glitz and glamour?

I deserve to be a King.

Im just being open minded.

It would be stupid to be blinded.

Everyone needs to find it.

Whatever makes you feel right, and… whatever makes you feel… right.

Right?

Wait this isn’t for me.

Im simply not ready.

If you loved me,

You would’ve warned me!

Oh wait! That was you?

You were providing me with people that knew?

You were stepping in for me,

When judgement was condemning me?

I wish i would have listened,

I’d give anything to be mended.

Featured

The Book of James Bible Study

I have been experiencing major life change in the last year and a half. All thanks to my relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That sounds bizarre to say because I repented of my sin and accepted salvation at six years old. My heart has proven to be belligerently rebellious against the transformative grace of Jesus Christ, which has kept me in a state of immaturity as a Christian. I can say now, however, that I have been purposefully growing in my relationship with God for the first time since I was a young teenager. The sufficiency of His grace during this time has been incredibly encouraging and difficult. In this growth, I thought it would be beneficial to do an in depth study of a book that has a special meaning to me.

James is my middle name. My parents gave me the name because of who he was in the Bible and for my great great Uncle ( I do not really remember how many greats). I do not know if other Christian families name their kids Bible names so that they have a “birthday verse,” but my family would go to the book of which one of our names was the title and then open to the chapter and verse that matched our birth date. That was our birthday verse. That is the only part of James that I really have residing in my mind permanently. James 5:13 says,” Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let them sing psalms.” This is just one of the many verses that we will be going over in this study. My goal is start go from beginning to end of the chapters that make up the book.

I have a few fears going into this. I am insecure about how little I seem to understand and know about the Bible as person raised in a christian home as a christian. So I am going into this as a student sharing what I discover and not as a “listen here what I know.”

I hope it is encouraging to someone and I am excited what I might learn about my personal Savior, the church, and myself. I will be posting what I learn from the first section of the book this Sunday and so on, each Sunday.

Featured

How Life is…

Confined to a body

Refined in the spirit

Captivity sounds like a prison

But is it really a transformation?

A cocoon that keeps the caterpillar from moving.

Is solely for improving.

Life is a struggle.

Life is a gift.

Am i in trouble?

Or is this bliss?

Only a short while

Do we get to descend to earth, thats in turmoil.

Im just taking it in.

There is good

And there is evil.

That makes it very simple.

There is me

There is eternity.

No need to keep it civil.

Featured

My Fashion Inspirations

W​hen thinking back on my style progression there are many people that have had influence on my fashion choices. Most of my fashion influences are women because of the plethera of freedom in womens wear that is not found in mens wear currently. I would say my very first style inspos came from basic ads for department stores. Magazines and their ads were the thing that introduced me to the world of fashion. Once I began exploring and diving into fashion’s world around highschool, I was very into the rules of fashion and listening to or watching enteratainment involved fashion like Americas Next Top Model, Project Runway, Fashion Police, etc. I wanted to know what went with what, what was trending, and when you were supposed to wear what. I loved the allure of a glamorous life that could only be obtained when you were “in the know” about what was “in”. When I decided to go to fashion school at university I was educated on the history and people that have shaped the industry into what it is today, which led me to a more introspective perception of what fashion really was and why I was so interested.

Coco Chanel

A​s a I began designing, I fell in love with Coco Chanel. She represented so much of what brought me to fashion. She boldly questioned social and gender norms that so strictly ruled society when she came onto the scene. The misogynistic modern culture of the west that constricted women’s bodies in corsets, cages, and bustles. These things made it impossible for them to do simple things like sit, breath, or ride a bike. This wouldnt do for the modern woman who was starting to enter the work force. Coco was an orphan who was taught to sew when raised by nuns. She became a milliner, a hat maker, at a young age. She opened up her own shop eventually, and it would lead to her opening her own atelier. She wanted to free women from the constraints of the corset to gain freedom and equality but also out of necessity. She gained fame and success in the years leading up to the war, and during the war when women had to join the work force. She brought over jersey materials that had formerly been used in mens sporting uniforms, loose fitting silhouettes to maximize freedom of movement, and popularized costume jewelry so all classes could add some bling to their wardrobe, an aspect of fashion that had previously been a priviledge of only the very wealthy. She was described by some as being masculine and brasine, a disrupter of her time and culture. Which is the main reason for her pedestal in the fashion community. She challenged the status quo and exposed it for what it was. The “rules” of fashion had become prisons that reinforced a class system that was immoral, misogynistic, and racist. Now, even though I very much admire Coco’s work in fashion, it is important to remember that all people are at their core just like you and me. Even people with huge societal and cultural impact that shape the direction of human existence are simply human. They have issues, faults, prejudices just like the rest of us. Coco was no exception. She had somewhat of a checkered romantic history that put her in the company of powerful men that may or may not have been monsters. Whatever her actual personal life entailed, She effected fashion in a hugely positive way, in my opinion. With Chanel as my main designer influence I stormed through fashion school fooled by the hurt and anger that had built up over the years from the treatment I had recieved for my choice of clothing. People saying I was too feminine, bizarre, and aggressive. People’s fear of the unknown and their own idea of how each person should present themsleves had rendered ridicule, loss of oppurtunities, and even violence towards me; and I hated that. It also fueled my ambition, work ethic, and creativity. 

Grace Jones

A​long side my discovery of Chanel I found Grace Jones. If you are not aware, Grace Jones, was a model, actress, and recording artist that was very famous in the 80’s. A regular at famous establishments like Studio 54, Jones made a splash with her outrageous outfits and behavior. She has a highly androgynous look that made people infatuated with her and what she “was”. Perhaps her most mainstream fame was her role as May Day in the Bond Franchise “A View To Kill.” Her style was agendered and aggressive. She also had a fascination with menswear, especially uniforms, this fascination expanded the boundaries of what women would wear for years to come. She was a muse for many, and an icon for others. Over all her impact on me was her fearless disruption of the status quo. I took from Jones’ legacy the practice of questioning what I am being told to see if it is actually something I believe or not. 

Me and Mema
Me and Mom

A​s I grew as a person and designer, I began to appreciate all the positive people that have encouraged my creativity and personal style. People like: my best friend, Hannah; my Mom; my Mema; my fashion school bestie, Anna; and my little sister, Abby. (There are more but these are the ones who have made the largest impact on my fashion obsession) My Mema’s ability to always be put together has always impressed me. Her fashion is consistent, and always matches. She loves to use color in her wardrobe and follows the pretty simple formula of pleated or pressed trousers, a blouse, and a jacket/sweater over the top. It so perfectly fits her and is adorable. My mom has always disliked shopping for clothes and any event that might force her to dress outside of her normal daily uniform of capris and a t-shirt. It seems that she thinks of fashion as a hill to steep for her to climb. Whenever we have an activity or event that requires her to ditch usual uniform she seems discouraged or unsastisfied with what she comes up with. My mother is stunningly beautiful but does not seem to pull confidence from that when it comes to her personal style. Saying all this might make it seem odd that I consider her a fashion inspiration, but it is her frustration or lack of understanding about fashion that fuels my love for helping people choose their clothes and talking to them about their personal style. I also so admire her priorities, and how the superficial aspects of one’s appearance do not drive her forward. She dresses in her simple uniform for practicality and comfortability because her first priority is as care giver for those around her. It is truly noble, and is easy to forget about if you are constantly surrounded my “fashion” people. It is easy to forget that fashion has to be worn by people, and not everyone wants to be a walking work of art.

Abby
Abby
Abby
Hannah and I

I​ list my best friend Hannah because she has been my closest friend since i was about fifteen years old. As I mentioned before: my personality, gestures, and clothing tend to stand out from a crowd, which can be difficult to be around let alone support. Hannah has always encouraged me in my fashion interest and search for a personal aesthetic. This means the world to me and is one of the main reasons I decided to go to fashion school. As I have grown in my personal style I have been lucky enough to be a onlooker on the personal style journey of my little sister Abby. In high school my little sister started taking an interest in the trhift shop phenomonen that came about from the “hipster” movement. She took it another direction however. While the ther girls were buying the old high wasted mom jeans and cutting them off to make trendy daisy dukes, Abby was buying the neck to floor denim dresses that you might see in the menonnite community. With the phrase “OooOOo it makes me look really boxy, im getting it” being uttered from the dressing room on a regular basis. Hearing this as the fashion school, outragious, “in your face” dresser that I was, was refreshing. Abby and I talk frequently about fashion and it brings joy to my heart to see her thinking through her sillhouette and style with purpose. It reflects where she is at in her personal story. When I have asked her about her love for covering up head to toe in what can only be described, silhouette-wise, as a tent, she has said,” I just would rather know that my body is beautiful underneath all this, then have to show it to find out.” (this is me paraphrasing) I found that to be a beautiful thought and it has stuck with me. My best friend from fashion school, Anna Heinold, (GO FOLLOW HER! @annaleighdesigns on Instagram) is a huge influence on me as a designer and person. We met our freshman year of fashion school at Lindenwood in our Sewing Fundamentals class. She was the best sewer in the class and I was somewhere near the middle/bottom. We quickly formed a friendship and became each others closest confidant while going through design school. She is the most talented designer I know personally. Her work ethic is trully inspiring and she has always supported me in my fashion work and kept me honest with my work ethic at times. (Sometimes I like to cut corners and take the easy way in design LOL) Anna’s personal style effects my personal style most in the form of layering. Anna is the queen of layers. She consistently wear socks with sandles, blouses under dresses, and she has a beuatiful colletion of tights. 

Me and Anna
Me and Anna

T​here are, of course, others that have influenced me but these are the people that are involved most in my inner conversation about my design work and personal style choices. I want to thank all of those that have been a part of my fashion journey and especially to all these women. 

X​OXO ADAM

Featured

Farewell for now… Denmark

S​itting here in the airport in Amsterdam while waiting for my connecting flight to Atlanta, I am surprisingly calm. Our season in the Dansk Volley Ligaen was cut short before we were able to compete in the semi-final for the first time in Nordenskov UIF’s history. We were ranked 2nd going into the finals of the league and knocked out our quarter-final opponent, Aalborg, in two matches for the best of three series. The morning of our first match of the semi-final series, it was announced that we would not be playing our match and all training and matches were canceled for the rest of March. All matches were said to be postponed until the “Corona Crisis” is under control. That was announced last Thursday, March 12th. This pandemic has been reaching its large arm through all aspects of our lives, and before the federation even completely canceled Ligaen Finals, we were told by our club that we should get home before all borders close. That was Monday, March 16th. So, here I am on Thursday, March 19th, in an airport with people keeping their distance and wearing masks and gloves. We were awarded with the silver medal of the league final. It is a HUGE milestone for the club, and I feel honored to have been part of it, despite the Corona crisis ending the season sooner than expected. What a wild year this has been so far for the world, but oddly, I feel possibly the most at peace that I have felt since childhood (when my biggest concern was which Power Puff Girl to be or which olympic volleyball player I would practice playing like). This sense of calm, I hope, comes from this past year of reflection, healing, and self-improvement. I graduated college last May with a lot of baggage, and I am not being dramatic when I say, “too much for me to carry”, alone at least. My God came through in some big ways for me last year. I found a connection to Him that is deeper than I have ever experienced before. He also provided me with the most amazing support system of family and friends anyone could ask for. He sent opportunities my way that came just at the right time. After my graduation, I felt an overwhelming need to prove to all those that loved and supported me, and that I loved and supported, that I would not always be that way. I would not always be so broken, angry, and selfish. I could change, Lord willing, I would. 

The Cathedral in Ribe ( a town that dates back to 700 AD )
Malachi Was Missing…
The gang, minus Malachi, and plus Tom’s sister Cate and parents Angie and Alan, and my Uncle Chris and sister Abby.

I​f you read my blog post when I first came to Denmark, you know the story of me deciding to take a season off from playing volleyball (putting a hold, possibly permanently, on my childhood dream of professional volleyball). And then, God came through with an awesome opportunity that completely took me off guard. I felt it was too soon to go on like everything was fine and live out that dream. I felt I still needed to prove that I was going to be okay to my family and friends, that I was not going to collapse under the pressure of life post-college like I did when I was in college. My family and friends felt differently, or at least they made me think they did, and told me to go. So, I did. 

Me exploring Nyhavn, a famous harbor of Copenhagen.
Church of our Savior in Copenhagen.
a German WWII bunker and museum called Tirpitz near the North Sea

T​he last five or so months in Denmark have been so much easier than I thought. The concerns I had about language, loneliness, cultural differences, and prejudices melted away within a week of being at the house in Nordenskov, Denmark. My Aussie and American housemates: Jordan, Malachi, Tom, Brendan, and Will, immediately welcomed me into their lives in the Danish countryside, and for that I am very grateful. I have struggled with male friendship since I was a child. For whatever reason, I struggle to enjoy the same interests and motivations of many of the men that I have encountered in life, and that has caused anywhere from awkwardness all the way to hostile negative interactions and relationships with other guys. But these guys (and the rest of the team) that I called friends for the last half year, approached me with such kindness and inclusivity. It’s enough to bring a tear to my eye (hard to do, usually). So, thank you so much guys! Also, sorry for my compulsive cleaning standards, forcing you to watch TV shows you would otherwise never choose to watch, and my obnoxious, ever-changing laughter and singing. To my Danish and Norwegian teammates, thank you for the help with my Danish, answering all of my annoying questions, and being so welcoming to me coming in half-way through your season. I consider you all to be good friends who I hope to see again. Our club managers, sponsors, and coaching staff were so supportive and took care of all of us all so well. From the logistics of bringing us foreigners over and making sure we had everything we needed to showing us a good time, Nordenskov UIF took care of us in every way. I know other players who have not had this experience when coming overseas. And so, to be a part of this club feels special, even lucky. 

Edvart, my Norwegian teammate at Nordenskov UIF
Nordenskov UIF right before the first match of the final four weekend for the Danish Cup in Aarhus

And last, but not least, I want to thank the women’s teams in the club that I was able to coach. Throughout my life, I have been blessed with female friendships filled with support and encouragement. Every one of these women (it would be a very long list if I mentioned everyone by name) was a pleasure to get to know and coach. You guys helped me with my Danish and converting things to meters (LOL), and were just an absolute joy to coach. My only regret is not getting a picture with the team before the abrupt ending of our season. Specifically, I want to thank Pia, Line, and Morten. You guys became my danish family while I was here. It was truly special for you to open your home to me the way you did. Thank you for all the delicious food, desserts, laughs, pottery, and games!

Line wearing a crown (because she “wins” at everything) and me holding one of my pottery creations… it’s a book end.
My Danish family from left to right Pia, Line, and Morten.

So, in closing this chapter, I basically just have a lot of gratitude. I have learned through this experience to have patience in God’s timing, to think before I speak, and that there are more important things than getting what I want (or might think that I want). While learning these things, I feel even more aware that I need to grow in them still. My perspective has to continue to shift to the process of maturity, not only mentally and interpersonally, but spiritually. 

Match vs Aalborg in the Quarterfinal series for the League Finals. Photo by: Alan Garlick
My little sister Abby in St. Petri’s Cathedral in Odense.

T​ake care of yourself. Not for your own sake, but for the sake of the people that count on you. Because after this life passes away, all we will have are the relationships we nurtured with others and with our God. Thank you Denmark for this adventure. I can not wait to see what is next. I am not closing the door fully, because, who knows? I might return to Viking country.

Castle at Kolding that I think is definitely haunted.

X​OXO ADAM

Featured

A Letter Home: A DANISH Bronze Medal

I​t has been almost a month since my last letter home. So, let us catch up on what has been happening up here in the adorable country of Denmark. We have had our last few regular season games here in the Dansk Volley Ligaen and competed in the final four weekend of the Danish Cup. We finished the regular season as number two in the league behind reigning league champs, Gentofte. The final four weekend for the Danich Cup started Friday morning with a departure from Nordenskov to Aaruhus. Aarhus is the second largest city in Denmark with a population of about 230,000 in the city itself. We played the semifinal match against Marienlyst. It was a tough first two sets that we lost. I got to go in to set in the third set and finished out the match. We were able to take it to five sets, but lost the fifth. That sent us to the bronze medal match the following morning at 9am against Aarhus. Aarhus, the hometown team, had a lot of supporters which made for a fun environment. We won the first two sets fairly easily but hit a slump in the third set. We lost the third set and began the fourth with a quick deficit to make up. I got to play in the last few points of the second set that we won steadily, and was fairly quickly subbed in the fourth set when we started the first ten points at a deficit. We won the fourth set, thanks to a team effort to shrink the deficit, and came out on top. After the men’s final finished later that afternoon, we had a short medal ceremony where we were given our bronze medals. The matches during the weekend pulled a fairly good sized crowd, and it was fun to see what Dansk Volleyball has to offer. 

Photograph by Alan Garlick

T​he weekend included the women’s final four matches as well which we got to watch in between matches. We had dinner at a delicious restaurant, Flamen (translated to “the flame”), friday night. The club sponsors paid for the delicious buffet and non-alcoholic beverages which was unexpected, but definitely made sense with how hospitable the Danish people have proven to be. Saturday for lunch I had the most delicious barbecue burger from Aarhus Street Food, a food market I highly recommend. Saturday night after all the matches had concluded was the Dansk Volleyball Gala. It included socializing, photos on a red carpet, a three course meal, and awards ceremony. After the gala, we drove home that night arriving in Nordenskov around midnight. 

Photograph by Alan Garlick

W​ithin the last month, I have really enjoyed coaching the women’s second team for NUIF. The women are eager to learn and grow in their volleyball knowledge and ability which is honestly impressive considering they range in age from fifteen all the way to women to my mother’s generation. It is so interesting to see and try to understand their perspective on volleyball and how it differs from mine because of where we come from. It is very cool to see how this sport can bring people from all different walks of life together. I have made friends with many of the women, and some have even invited me over for dinner and game nights which have made this place feel like home. For that, I am so grateful. 

Photograph by Alan Garlick

I​ am still enjoying working on my blog posts, the videos I am now uploading to youtube, and my IGTV. I am excited to see where this little side hustle goes and appreciate all the support you all have given. I am still crocheting my scarf, reading, journaling, practicing my Danish, learning from my devotions and discipleship lessons, sketching, and now trying to plan out what my summer back in the states will look like. All of this I am able to do because of this opportunity from Nordenskov UIF to get paid to play the sport that I love. I am so grateful for the opportunity and to my God, family, and friends that have been the support system that has enabled me to take advantage of said opportunity. 

Photograph by Alan Garlick

X​OXO ADAM

Featured

Fashion is a Mirror

F​ashion is physical, fashion sense is mental, and fashion expression is spiritual. I have been accused before of reading into things too deeply. To a person that has zero interest in fashion, this can be obnoxious. I can be obnoxious. However, I would argue that anything in this life can be studied in depth. This in depth study will always reveal things to us beyond the readily apparent. Therefore, I am not upset about people not being super into fashion or argueing that everyone needs to think about fashion as much as I do. But, we should all study the things in our lives that affect or interest us. This is how we learn and grow. 

N​ow, this is not a philosophy blog. So, back to the fashion. What you wear tells the viewer stuff about you that might not be intentional. For example, when you see someone in baggy sweats and a hoodie out in public, one might assume that person is a lazy slob. When you see someone in a short skirt and heels, one might assume they are a slut. We might not know that person or ever see them again, but we make that snap judgement that throws a human being, made up of a complex combination of a soul, mind, and body, into a fairly small box. That one judgement or assumption leads to others, and they all begin before we even talk to that person. We have really demonized this very innate human reaction in modern society, because we have “evolved” to the point where we think that our feelings are paramount and need to be prioritized above all. I believe this goes against our biology as humans. That is why it is such a losing battle to make this social justice movement of speaking politically correct all the time the first priority of existing as a human in the modern age. Now, this is not to say that these snap judgements are okay, but that they are somewhat unavoidable. When we experience these snap judgements, I think it would be far more beneficial to recognize them and understand that my feelings about someone’s look are not facts. No matter how many times you have been “right about people” in the past, we should not let these snap judgements decide how we treat someone either. We are to go through life acting out of love and living at peace with all people, as the Good Book says. We, of course, will not always do this, because we are flawed. We have to be willing to accept the consequences for our actions or words that come from these snap judgements. 

N​ow that I have told you all how to react to other people’s fashion choices, let us talk about your fashion choices. I have mentioned before that when I say “successful personal style”, I am talking about a style that effectively communicates our goals or priorities with our appearance and life in general. To do this, we can not turn off our brains when making choices about our garments. I can not even count how many times I have helped someone pick out something to wear and either they are not able to explain why they want to wear something, or they are not willing to admit why they want to wear something. I try to help people through this by asking questions and encouraging them get to the bottom of why they want to wear something or what they want to achieve with whatever they are trying to pick out. In college, it was hard not to try to just be as hot as you possibly could, because it honestly felt like a competition of who can be the most desireable. This greedy aspiration is so empty and superficial though, because that would be the reason for what we wore. If we were honest with what our goal was, it was to find a person we had a genuine connection with. Therefore, our choices did not get us any closer to our goal. We would dress all hot and sexy and get a lot of attention fueled by sex and desire, but be left with emptiness after we recieved the affirmation or attention. That is why it is important to find where our reasons and goals intersect, so that we are working in one direction. I speak about this from personal experience with my own fashion choices and spending time with others discussing their fashion choices. 

T​his look is really just a collection of things I like. The jacket is a thrift store find from the Tower Grove neighborhood of St Louis. I love that it has quilting details, because of my obsession with all things old lady. The corduroy details just send it over the top as a must-have coat, and it is so warm and cozy. The sweater is as interesting. It has a wide neck that does not seem like it is meant to go off the shoulder, but does allow you to wear it in a few different ways. I was drawn to it in a thrift store in Aspen, Colorado last summer. I was just out exploring the small mountain community in between matches for the grass volleyball tournament that I was there for. So, it also holds that fond memory for me. The green corduroy pants are another thrift store find as well as the belt. I really have just gotten used to being pretty free with my choices on what I take off the rack. They are usually founded in what I like about fashion most, and that’s having fun with it.

xoxo ADAM

Edited by: Rachel Kater Photos by: Moriah Roberts

Featured

High Risk=High Fashion

I am a huge advocate of taking risks when it comes to fashion. It is what makes it such an interesting and expressive art form. Which is why, a common piece of advice I give is to not take fashion too seriously. This week, I just want to empower you guys to have fun with your fashion choices. Push the limits on what you think you can pull off. Go for that look you have always wanted to rock, but never did because fear stifled your creativity. 

I, myself, have always tried (emphasis on TRIED) to stomp fearlessly down the catwalk of life in the most fabulous outfits I can think of, but I would be telling a bold faced lie if I were to say my looks have never flopped. Now, this “be you and don’t care what people think” attitude is preached out to us from all sides today in the states. This attitude truly can be helpful in gaining some confidence, when used to a certain degree. However, the elite of our society are on a huge “everyone is perfect just as they are and anyone who does not think so is wrong ” kick. This is a message that contradicts itself. If everyone is perfect the way that they are, then their preferences, likes, and dislikes are as well. I just know this to be false. We are flawed creatures, and trying to live in delusion of that fact is not “fierce” or “confident”. It is just delusional. Now, let us not go crazy and say that you can not be appreciated or confident in yourself because of your flaws. Confidence is rooted in truth. That is why people are the most confident about the things that they know the most about. Whether religion, profession, intelligence, identity, athletic ability, or fashion; the more you learn the truth about something, the more confident you will be.

All this to say, it is important to take responsibility for what you do. That applies to everything in life, and in fashion, it looks like making conscious choices and backing them with reasons. Hindsight is 2020, and we need to be able to look back at a style moment and be able to admit if we were misguided and wrong about putting together a look. I do believe this will happen less often if we make every choice about what we put on with conscious reasons in mind for what our goals were with the ensemble in question. Now, there will always be differing opinions on what is cute or appropriate. That is when we have to be ready to make peace with the fact that not everyone is going to love our style. There is 100% nothing wrong with that. Also, if we make purposeful decisions about our style, there is less room for interpretation on what we are going for if we do it well. The best way to start clearly communicating what we are going for when dressing is to practice and experiment. To improve we must fail, and to fail we must try new things. This, like many of the other concepts I talk about, applies to more than just fashion. But, let us keep it focused on fashion for the purpose of this blog post.

Now, comes the part of the show where I tear down the curtain to give you guys a glimpse into some of the failures that have brought me to the point I am at with my personal style. We will begin with the duct tape… So, when I first started showing real interest in fashion around age thirteen; I was infatuated with duct tape. It was colorful, and could be used in so many ways. If you do not know where this is going… yes, I started making accessories for myself out of duct tape. I did not keep any of my creations, sadly, for a show and tell moment. So, I will try to paint a picture. I created neon blue and green wallets, baby blue wristbands, neon orange and pink sandals, all different colors of bow ties, and slip on shoes. Honestly, I think Toms stole my idea for their famous slipper-like shoe; I had those all in duct tape baby! It was a moment, and it honestly helped nurture my creativity in working with unconventional material to make a conventional item. However, it lasted a little too long; I would say. And, yes, this picture was taken at my 15th birthday party. I was doing this in high school, y’all! I think my parents made the right call in homeschooling me, because I can only imagine how bad the bullying would have been in school compared to the bullying I received already within my sheltered, homeschooled life. Now, like I said, fashion does not have to be taken super seriously. But, duct tape accessories, especially at the caliber I was creating, are not cute on anyone except the four-foot, eight-inches of loud, bubbly, hamster-like magic that I was when I was thirteen. I held onto that style journey a little too long. I learned a lot from this, though. I learned how to construct things, which would later help me in design school. I learned that not all color combinations are fabulous (especially in neon), and that while some of my ideas about style were good, they could be executed better. 

Another example that stands out to me, is my more recent obsession with crop tops and short shorts. This one is a little more raw, because this goes all the way up to current day Adam’s fashion choices. I love a cropped top and will defend a cute, cropped look probably until the day I die, but there are times where it works and times where it does not. The main reason I think this is one of my fashion faux pas along my style journey, is because of my reasons for wearing my crop tops and short shorts at times. I started wearing cropped looks in college; a time when I had a new found freedom and was trying to see where I fit into the world. This led to some questionable fashion moments to say the least. Some people really hated the idea of men wearing crop tops simply because in some minds, it is a strictly female garment. To which I like to remind people that cropped sweaters, vests, and shirts were worn by lots of men in the 80’s disco era. So, know more than just the last decade of trends before you come for someone else’s style, or of course you can always keep your mouth shut. The same can be said for heels, but that is another story for another time. Now, the other reason that I got backlash for my crop tops and short shorts was for the issue of modesty. This is the reason that gives validity to times I would consider a few looks unsuccessful. I come from a conservative family that holds modesty as a high priority, when it comes to dressing, because of our belief in the Bible. I am easily the one in my family that has tested the boundaries of modesty. And to this day, what I would consider to be modest is not what others that hold similar beliefs to me consider modest. During my time in college, I definitely wore things that were provocative and what I would consider immodest if I were to look objectively at myself. Those times are when I would consider my style to be unsuccessful, because it did not represent me as a person. It was more about throwing it in someone’s face who had called me out. So, this taught me the lesson that it is not always what you wear but how you wear it, which can be just as important as what you actually physically put on. 

_MG_1944
_MG_1956

These photographs made me think of taking risks, because the pants are my own unique design and construction. And, they were part of my senior collection. They are a little snug on me, but as a concept I love the simplicity of them. The two quirky elements of the exposed buttons for the fly and the patch pockets that straddle the side seams add a little bit of flare. This sweater was a risk, because I once thought this color was the ugliest color I had ever seen. That perspective changed in my color theory class in college when I realized how complex this color was. This was because of the colors that you have to mix to make it, and how it can then be easily paired with so many other colors. I pair it with this vintage L.L. Bean Coat (you guessed it, thrift store find), because the yellow that is only one part of this complex color pairs nicely with the red in the coat. This works because these colors are analogous. The brown corduroy cuffs on the coat somehow match the sweater as well, because they contain a similar orange in the color mixture of the sweater. 

_MG_1975

TAKE A RISK! If it works beautifully, you have one more tool in your fashion tool belt. If it does not work, find out why, then add that to your rolodex of knowledge about your personal style. 

xoxo ADAM