Blog Posts

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July 2022: ‘Things That Matter’ + Resisting Consumerism

We’re more than halfway through 2022. Wild, right? Here’s your July 2022 recap: 

Best Book I Read This Month 

Many people think that minimalism is about getting rid of things until you have one lonely chair sitting in your pretty empty home. But what if minimalism was about refining your life to live on purpose? Joshua Becker explores this concept in his books. Because I’ve been reading a lot of Becker’s work, this month is a two-for-one recommendation. Find out more about Becker’s Things That Matter and The More of Less here. 

Best Article I Read This Month

Shameless self-promotion here. July played host to Shark Week! I love sharks and I love writing – read the combination of these loves here. 

Tip + Trick of the Month

July was all about minimalism on the homefront. Have an overabundance of towels and blankets that have seen better days? Don’t throw them away – take them to your local animal shelter! As someone who has volunteered for two different shelters and has a shelter pup of her own, I can testify that there is always a need for more soft things for dogs and other animals to sleep on. 

Quote of the Month

“Often, Christians ask me, ‘How can I love my neighbor without misleading her into thinking I approve of everything she does?’ First, remember that Christians cannot give good answers to bad questions. No one approves of everything that others do. No one. It is a false question. The better question is this: ‘How can my neighbors know that because I live under God’s authority rather than the compulsions of my own selfish desires, their secrets are safe with me?’ The answer is simple: love the sinner and hate your own sin. Or, as Mark says ‘Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another’ (Mark 9:50).”

-Rosaria Butterfield, The Gospel Comes with a House Key

Kelvey’s Thought for the Month

As Americans, we’re conditioned to think that more is better. That is the very heart of consumerism. But what if we start to resist that notion? 

I know I have been harping on minimalism throughout this entire monthly update, but I think regardless of how strongly/loosely you hold to such tenets, there is goodness for everyone to find here. As of late in my own life, it has been a freeing resistance to consumerism. Do you know how good it feels to walk through a store and have my brain be thinking about how happy it is to not bring unnecessary items into my home rather than wanting to buy everything? 

Something to think about. Hit the comments or the reply button if you have your own thoughts on this and, as always, I’ll catch you next month.

Photo of a Des Moines, Iowa bridge at night with white text overlaid

June 2022: Holier Than Thou + A Note on Processing

The fireworks in my neighborhood are dying down, so it’s official – it’s time for the June 2022 recap:

Best Book I Read This Month 

If God is holy, He can’t sin against me. If God can’t sin against me, He is the most trustworthy being to exist. Jackie Hill Perry breaks down God’s holiness in a tangible, convicting way in Holier Than Thou: How God’s Holiness Helps Us Trust Him. Get it here. 

Best Article I Read This Month

The concept of Jurassic Park is good, actually. Matthew Yglesias over at Slow Boring explained why. Read it here!

Tip + Trick of the Month

In light of SCOTUS’ concerning decision regarding Miranda rights, this thread from former Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate Spike Cohen is helpful: 

Quote of the Month

“This is the promise of minimalism: to rejoice at the sight of all the things we do not need. And to have our lives finally freed to pursue the things we want to do.” -Joshua Becker, The More of Less

Kelvey’s Thought for the Month

Early in June, an evening walk ended in me witnessing a shooting and the murder of a young woman. To close this edition of the newsletter, I wanted to share some lightly edited thoughts I originally shared a week after the event took place: 

“This week was hard. Lots of lost sleep, prayer, and conversations with dear friends. Thank you for your prayers and messages. Monday night, I was present at the shooting that took the life of Elizabeth Arzola. 

I was out for a walk at my favorite place in Des Moines, a walk I take most nights. I never imagined the night would end in Elizabeth’s murder or that I would bear witness to it. Please keep praying for her family and those who were with her that night – their screams will never leave my head. 

Trying to process this trauma over the past week has left me thinking a lot about safety. I can’t help but think about how fast I was walking, the conversation I was having with a friend, and the geese and skateboarders we stopped to watch. If any of that timing had changed for us (or for anyone else on that hill that night), if we had walked even slightly faster or not stopped at all, we might not be here today. That night was determined by seconds, and I can’t make sense of why Elizabeth is gone and the rest of us are not. The feeling of safety in that place has been shattered, but it was a reminder that safety is an absolute illusion. 

I’ve lived through horrible car accidents, head injuries, illness, threats. But I’ve also lived through waking and sleeping, going about my day, and acting as if my frail humanity is not reliant on God for every breath I take. Life isn’t safe. We pretend it is. But I might go to sleep tonight and not wake up. I might step in front of a bus, hit my head too hard, or catch an incurable disease. 

Removing the illusion of safety is enough to make you cry and stop living, to sit inside your house and panic. Life isn’t safe. The ONLY assurance I have in this life is that it is held by the God who aligns planets and breathes out galaxies, who unbelievably cares for me too. I know that when that day comes when life’s lack of safety catches up to me, I’ll be home with Him. Do you know Him? I pray you do. Life isn’t safe. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Please run to your Creator.”

Have a great July. I’ll see you next month.

May 2022 I Hate Running and You Can Too + Doing Over Data

May 2022: I Hate Running and You Can Too + Doing Over Data

Is it officially summer now? Here’s a May recap as we head into June. 

Best Book I Read This Month 

Running is not my workout of choice. It isn’t even my cardio of choice. But after listening to Brendan Leonard, creator of the Semi-Rad brand, on a podcast, I had to pick one of his books up. I Hate Running and You Can Too is, in my opinion, not just for people who want to run (although it will definitely get you athletically motivated). I think it’s a great (short, funny, visual…) read for anyone thinking about doing and discipline. Buy it or learn more here. 

Best Article I Read This Month

Okay…I’m shamelessly promoting my own work this month instead of a different author’s piece. I recently spent some time in New York City (hence the Phantom of the Opera photo in the header) and was excited to see all the ferry terminal information boards highlighting projects I had written about, and am even more excited now that the piece has officially published. Coastal cities have coastal problems – oysters are one cool solution. Read it here. 

Tip + Trick of the Month

Get sneaky about your food to hit your goals. Need to up your protein? Buy protein pasta, dress every possible dish up with Greek yogurt, sneak protein powder into desserts. Need to eat more leafy greens? Blend them up, saute them into a pasta dish, cook them so you can’t tell they’re there. You don’t have to be miserable to win in the kitchen, just clever. 

And trying to give up meat but can’t quite make it work? Let me know. I can help.

Quote of the Month

“Forget the noun, do the verb.” -Austin Kleon

Kelvey’s Thought for the Month

Yesterday, I managed to snap my Apple Watch off my wrist in the gym parking lot and the screen shattered. (Yes, I now know that they make tempered glass screen protectors for your smartwatch too.) After staring at my broken screen for a good long minute, do you know what I nearly did? 

I nearly got back in my car and left instead of walking into the gym and working out. 

Setting aside the fact that yesterday was the Mondayest Tuesday ever, why did that thought pop into my head? I was literally standing outside the gym, and I’m a person who enjoys working out. But those factors didn’t seem to matter in the moment – what mattered is that I wouldn’t have the data from the workout. 

I wouldn’t be seeing the calories burned and steps counted. I wouldn’t be seeing how long the workout was. I wouldn’t be contributing toward any of my automatically recorded digital goals. 

Be proud, reader – I still went in and checked off leg day. But that thought process served as a warning to me that I would like to pass along. We all treat data as king, but it is the actual doing that is most important, not the recording of the doing. Take that as you will, apply it liberally. 

Have a great June. I’ll see you next month.

April 2022: Greenlights + Build Back Better (Habits)

April 2022: Greenlights + Build Back Better (Habits)

Here’s hoping your Monday went well and that your May is off to a great start! April 2022 was far too cold, but I still shivered my way through a full month to recap for you: 

Best Book I Read This Month 

I read my first celebrity memoir, and I think it’ll probably be my last celebrity memoir. Matthew McCounaughey’s Greenlights was a wild ride. Beautiful quotes and wise advice were interspersed with stories so crazy they must be true (partially because a good number of them reflected very poorly on him, his family, and other loved ones). It was an entertaining and bewildering read, and you can get the book here. 

Best Article I Read This Month

I swear I read journalism from other outlets and not just from the magazine I work for, but Reason has so many good takes it would be a crime to not share. Enjoy this longform read from our May 2022 issue talking about the pandemic, social networks, and old-time saloons. 

Tip + Trick of the Month

Do you want to cut back on mindless social media scrolling? Set time limits on your phone, but let someone you live with set the password. And DO NOT let them tell you what it is. I share a house with my sister, and since having her set my phone’s time limits, I am far more exacting in my social media use. I’m not exaggerating when I say it has reduced my phone use by hours every week. 

Quote of the Month

“If you are part of Christ’s own body, your sins evoke his deepest heart, his compassion and pity. He ‘takes part with you’—that is, he’s on your side. He sides with you against your sin, not against you because of your sin. He hates sin. But he loves you.” 

-Dane Ortlund, Gentle and Lowly

Kelvey’s Thought for the Month

I was in great shape when I was in college, but by the time 2021 rolled around, I couldn’t say the same. Between gym closures, reduced outings, and food delivery, the pandemic took the same toll on me that it did on everyone else. Couple that with a newly diagnosed thyroid disorder, and I lost a lot of muscle mass while putting on inches and generally losing a lot of my former healthy habits. 

2022 has been my rebuilding year, and I’ve rebuilt with wellness (not just muscles or hard workouts) in mind. Here are some of the simple habits that have had me feeling better, building more muscle, and leading a healthier life than I have in years. Steal if they work for you! 

  • Prioritizing Enough Quality Sleep
  • Getting 150 Grams of Daily Protein
  • Maintaining Average Calorie and Macro Consumption
  • Averaging 70,000 Weekly Steps
  • Building An Adjustable Workout Schedule

That’s all for now, folks. Have a great May – I’ll catch you next month.

Your monthly recap from kelveyolivia.com is here.

March 2022: The Club + Shark Attack Documentaries

Happy Monday! I wanted to steer very clear of April Fools Day, so here’s a delayed monthly recap for your morning. 

Best Book I Read This Month 

The Club was one of those books I checked out on a whim but found myself recommending immediately after finishing. Plot twist after effortless plot twist. It has been a long time since I turned the final few pages of a book with truly no idea how it was going to end. Highly recommend it if you are needing a good piece of fiction. (Fair warning though, this is not for the kids.) 

Best Article I Read This Month

When picking my favorite article from each month, I automatically go look at the ones I have shared on Facebook – it’s a pretty good barometer for what I find interesting enough to share. There were so many good ones this month, but I think the most important story I could share is this profile on a high-risk pregnancy in prison. Devastating. The handling of prison pregnancies is a place where pro-lifers and criminal justice reformers (both of which I consider myself to be) should be teaming up to enact change. 

Tip + Trick of the Month

This comes from James Clear of Atomic Habits notoriety: 

“Nearly everything in life has a useful zone, a desired dose. Ten minutes in the sun can energize you. Ten hours in the sun can burn you. This concept applies to many things: work, relationships, hobbies, exercise, food. What is your desired dose? What do you need right now? A little bit more or a little bit less? 

Quote of the Month

“Libertarianism is the ‘diet and exercise’ of politics. No one wants to hear it. Implementing it will be painful sometimes. But it’s the only way to make our society healthy. There simply is no other option.” 

While the original quote is from @checkmatestate on Twitter, the addendum from Reason’s Nick Gillespie is worth considering. 

Kelvey’s Thought for the Month

I watch a lot of shark attack documentaries. It’s actually an absurd amount. As a result, I end up thinking about shark attacks potentially more than the average person, especially when I know I am visiting the ocean. (Imagine my relief when I discovered that my last seaside vacation spot had not had a documented shark attack over the last six decades.) 

I consume a lot of shark attack documentaries, so I think about shark attacks more. If you consume a lot of angry political Twitter or fearful news, what is going to slowly take over your thinking? We become what we consume, so consume well. 

Enjoy your April! I’ll see you next month.

February 2022: At Your Best + Lent Around The Corner

February 2022: At Your Best + Lent Around The Corner

Is anyone else extremely happy about the warmer weather? Dreary winter days, be gone! As we close out the month, here’s your February update talking about books, burnout, and more. 

Best Book I Read This Month 

February was a month where I started a lot of books…that I have yet to finish. Hah. Does anyone else relate? But there’s a book I only have a few more pages left of that has been extremely life-giving. 

At Your Best by Carey Nieuwhof speaks to me on so many levels. I hit a point of burnout back in December. While I have removed the chief source of that burnout, I’m still working to shape a schedule and routine that will help prevent me from burning out in the future. This book teaches you how to shape a schedule that leverages your energy cycles to actually work on your priorities. Highly recommend it – you can read more about the book here

Best Article I Read This Month

Amir Locke’s murder was horrifying. And, all gun owners (such as myself) should be condemning the fact that police murdered a man because they caught a glimpse of his lawfully owned weapon. While this National Review article was much more sympathetic to law enforcement than I am, it makes great points about the fact that gun ownership is multiracial in this country. 

Tip + Trick of the Month

Again referring to At Your Best, you should be doing your most important work when you’re at your best. I think we can all read that and have a ‘duh’ moment. But this can be easily boiled down to two things: working according to your energy levels and blocking distractions. For the first, pay attention to when you’re the most awake, efficient, and ‘on’ (for me, it’s usually before 10 am). As for the second…well…good luck. 

Quote of the Month

This quote is attributed by many to John Wesley. On how to live your life…

“Set yourself on fire with passion, and people will come from miles to watch you burn.” 

Kelvey’s Thought for the Month

Lent is right around the corner. As we enter into this season on Wednesday, many of you who are believers that, like me, do not belong to Catholic or Lutheran traditions may be questioning whether this season is something you should observe. I believe you should.

Observation of the church calendar is one of the easiest ways to orient yourself toward Christ throughout the year. Lent marks a season of renewal, of removing the things that take our gaze from Jesus. So dig in. Identify what, if removed, would draw you nearer to Christ. Remove distractions and turn toward the cross over these 40 days. You will not regret it. 

Enjoy your March! I’ll see you next month.

Welcome to the January 2022 recap - read on about Atomic Habits, my new job, and more. 

January 2022: Atomic Habits + A New Job

Happy it’s-not-January, everyone! Why is it that we always set out to completely change our lives in one of the most dreary months possible? You made it. It can only get better from here. Welcome to the January 2022 recap – read on about Atomic Habits, my new job, and more. 

Best Book I Read This Month 

I’m clocking in at four books read this month. It might have been more, but COVID-19 knocked me out for nearly a week. If you had it, did it impact your reading comprehension? I’m just grateful to be able to pick up a book and understand it again without lines blurring together. 

My favorite book from January is Atomic Habits by James Clear. This is a best seller for a reason and was actually a reread for me. A very practical read, this book helps so much with understanding how to build the habits and rhythms that make up our days. Read more about it here

Best Article I Read This Month

We are constantly throwing tech terms around, and some of us might not know what Meta is, let alone the metaverse. Mashable put together this handy guide to some of the most popular tech terms flying around lately. NFTs? Blockchain? Read all about it here

Tip + Trick of the Month

I’m 90 percent sure I originally discovered the following in Jon Acuff’s Finish, but it’s something I’ve been ruminating on as we start off the year. When we set goals, we often set them ambitiously rather than practically. Yes – ambition and pushing yourself are important. But nothing sucks motivation from something faster than it being unattainable or unsustainable. This year, take your end goal and cut it. 

Aiming to read 52 books when you didn’t read one last year? Read 25. Want to run a marathon this year when you can barely run a mile? Start with a 5K or a 10K. Set the bar where it’s still a goal, but within reach – you’ll be a lot more motivated to go for the next milestone. 

Quote of the Month

I’m hoping this will usually be a little bit deeper, something to think about…but I loved the following tweet and think it wins quote of the month: 

Kelvey’s Thought for the Month

There’s been a life change! While I’m thankful for all I learned working in consulting, I left my position as a communications manager for a local public relations firm in the middle of January. New title? Communications specialist for Reason Foundation and Reason Magazine. Nothing like getting to work with fellow libertarians all day on great policy and the journalism that brings good ideas to life. It is GOOD to be once again gainfully employed within the liberty movement. 

Enjoy your February! I’ll see you next month.

Kelvey Olivia Dot Com blog announcement

What Kelvey Olivia Dot Com Will Look Like In 2022…

The Kelvey Olivia Dot Com blog used to be the section of my personal website that caught literally all my random ramblings. And, there used to be a weekly cadence of posting. I have been pretty quiet over the last months as I thought about what I wanted the future of this website to look like. Now, as we draw this year to a close, I am excited to share what is in store. 

This blog is not going anywhere, rest assured. But my life has changed a lot and I want the website to reflect it. For 2022, I will be transitioning over to a monthly cadence and will be using each monthly post to share in a more structured way. These posts will highlight the following: 

Best Book I Read This Month 

I read a LOT. I love talking about books, and I love hearing book recommendations. So, I will be highlighting my favorite read of the month and would love to have you let me know in the comments whether you have read it and/or what other books you recommend. 

Best Article I Read This Month

I work full-time as a writer and communicator. That means I don’t just read a lot of books – I read a LOT of digital articles. Whether news or opinion, short-form or long-form, lifestyle or theological, I’ll loop you in on my favorite pick of the month. To get you started, enjoy this fun read about camel botox I stumbled upon a few weeks ago by clicking here

Tip + Trick of the Month

I like to share what works for me. But I also like sharing great ideas FROM other people WITH other people. Catch me sharing the tips and tricks I stumble across here. 

Quote of the Month

This is pretty self-explanatory. I’m the person who completely uses up highlighters when reading, so I’m particularly excited about this section. 

Kelvey’s Thought for the Month

Finally, I still want to include space to write about what has been on my mind. This might be a new workout routine, Scripture, a lifestyle change, or something else. I’m leaving this vague on purpose, and look forward to sharing my perspective in a fitting way each month. 

I hope you join me in 2022. Happy new year!

25 things in 25 years

25 Things in 25 Years

Usually, commemorating another year on the planet would fall within a couple of days of the day itself. However, when I turned 25 on September 13th, I was in Iceland with no access to a laptop. And it was GLORIOUS. (See the end for a couple photos.) 

Spending 10 days abroad with no laptop, no pressure to write and think was really nice. But I firmly believe that touchpoints like birthdays, the beginning of a new year (season…month…week…day), and the like are amazing opportunities to stop and remember. And 25 years was a substantial enough point that I felt the need to really sit with the years, think through them, and assess where I’ve come from and what God has done. 

So, nearly a month after the fact, here are 25 things I’ve learned from the last 25 years that I feel like you should know: 

  1. You will become a different person through different stages of life. It’s okay. Sometimes letting an old self die will feel like a funeral. That’s okay too. 
  2. The Church is not perfect, but it’s worth fighting for, and it needs you. Serve it. Love it. Commit to it. 
  3. Keep reading good books. And any way you consume a book counts (yes, that includes listening to it). 
  4. You need exercise, but you don’t have to hate it. Find something that gets you moving that you love, and ignore the idiotic ideas we have about fitness. (No, how long it takes you to run a mile is not the only marker of athleticism.) 
  5. Giving up meat is not that hard. It saves you money, it’s good for the planet, and it lets you find more animals cute without feeling guilty. 
  6. You’re not God. You need to sleep. Channel a bear and try to hibernate at night. 
  7. The Sabbath as a crucial practice didn’t disappear when Jesus came. You need a day where you cease doing and just practice BEING and communing with God. 
  8. You don’t need to be a master chef, but you need to know how to cook a few things. Trust me.
  9. Do the thing that scares YOU. But know how to make yourself feel safe too. Adrenaline in doses is good but you also need security. Give the speech, but buy the weighted blanket and candles. 
  10. Use a budget. It’s just a tool. It isn’t set in stone. Think of it as your money roadmap and reroute it as needed. 
  11. And use your money well. Be generous. Learn how to invest. Financial stewardship is important. 
  12. Relationships of any form don’t just HAPPEN. They need your time and attention. And, if you give your relationships time and attention, proximity is not a factor. But the relationships that last are the ones where both sides are equally committed to the romance/the family/the friendship/the fill-in-the-blank. 
  13. Get out of debt as fast as you can. But buy the freaking coffee. One great drink won’t set you back 50 years. 
  14. Don’t stay in a toxic job. If it’s eroding your boundaries and killing your spirit or causing you to set aside your ethics, it isn’t worth it. You CAN find another one – it isn’t the end of your career, and you don’t have to stay in a bad situation out of some false sense of obligation. 
  15. But don’t quit a job just because it’s hard or someone hurts your feelings. Resilience hurts but grows. Commit unless there is a very good reason to not be committed. 
  16. Travel as much as you can. Even if it’s to a different town in your state. Travel opens our eyes to the lives of others, lets us see beauty, and challenges us. 
  17. If you start drinking coffee, not only will you have caffeine options wherever you go, but you will have a very sweet ritual too. 
  18. Love your family. Commit to your family. Forgive your family. But don’t let genuinely toxic family members ignore your boundaries, and don’t feel like toxic behavior has to be ignored because you are related. Forgiveness erases any debt they owe you, but it doesn’t create an obligation of time spent together. 
  19. Talk to people about your struggles. Vulnerability hurts at first but it takes weight off your shoulders.
  20. You don’t have to live a Pinterest worthy life. Live quietly, live faithfully. It’s enough.
  21. In our society that loves independence, know that God made you dependent. You NEED Scripture. You NEED prayer. You NEED community. 
  22. It is always better to support policy instead of a political party or politician. When was the last time you saw policy wonks screaming at each other in the streets? (If you did see something like that, please send me the video. I would love to witness how a screaming match over Section 230 goes down.) 
  23. You can think a lot of things are good and worth doing or achieving. The government is usually the worst vehicle to get things done. 
  24. It is not always easy, but you should adopt a shelter pet. You’ll see how radically an animal can love and you’ll change a life. 
  25. Tech addictions will kill your spirit. Frequently resist. Delete the apps. Turn off the phone. Outsmart the attention economy. 

And, a +1 to complete the list: 

Salvation through Christ is the only true hope and security you will have in life. The Gospel is that Jesus entered into His creation, lived the life we couldn’t live, died the death we deserve, and conquered death so that one day, only through Him, we will too. It’s THE good news, and I pray you accept it.

And now, a couple of Iceland photos:

Icelandic Horse Investigating Camera
Gullfoss Waterfall
Horrifying circumstances are the training grounds for global intercession.

Let Horror Lead To Prayer

If I ever tell you I am praying enough, I’m lying. There will never be enough to be found while I’m still on this planet. Yet, there is one place where my prayer life has always faltered more than anywhere else: praying for the nations. 

But in the last few weeks, God has gently been working on my heart with a singular prompt: Let horror lead to prayer. 

There is no better example of this working in reality than the crisis in Afghanistan. We have become so desensitized to horror that it is extremely easy to read a headline, shake our head in dismay…and then keep scrolling. And I was ready to tweet my political take about this and keep going, but God stopped me.

He prompted me to pray. To pray through what I was seeing on my screens. To read through the stories of struggling Afghans, especially the underground Church in that nation, and PRAY. 

I’m not writing to you as an expert on prayer. I’m writing to you as someone who is decidedly NOT but who had a breakthrough lesson from God that she wants to share. 

We often make prayer too complex. I think one of the reasons I struggle to pray for the nations is that the concept is so BIG and often seems vague. How can I pray for what I don’t know to pray for? 

But praying for specific needs I’m seeing play out in practically real-time? That I can do. That I can put into words when the world altogether seems to be too big for me to make a dent in prayer. 

If praying for the nations is as hard for you as it is for me, think smaller. Pray for Christians across the world, that the Gospel would advance. Then, stop when you’re horrified by a current event and pray for that. It’s a learned habit, and I’m not completely there yet, but by God’s grace I even have the chance to advocate for others, and by His grace, I’ll grow in this discipline.