The Wholehearted Hero: Emily from It's Emily Land

I'm so excited to share my next Wholehearted Hero with you this month! Follow along as I celebrate the ones who choose bravely and live wholeheartedly. I pray you leave inspired, challenged, and ready to embrace what's in front of you today. 

When I first met Emily through a friend two years ago, we clicked instantly, and I knew she'd be one of those people I wanted to stay connected to, even from afar. I remember being so impressed by her passion and drive - both of which led her to become a CEO of a start-up before she was 24. But more than that, Emily has committed to living openly and honestly with those around her and I'm honored to share a little sneak peak into her life with you. I can't wait to see what you do and where you go, Emily! 

1. Give us a snapshot into your life in Malibu. What do you and your husband do and how would you describe your relationship? 

A snapshot of our life in Malibu. Wow. Such a fun first question because it’s one I never would have dreamed anyone would ever ask me. My husband, Luke is in his third (and last!) year at Pepperdine Law and I work from home in social media. I would describe our relationship as newlyweds as fun, sweet, loving, with lots of learning happening too.

2. Can you briefly let us into your journey that led to where you are now? Tell us about your career and your relationship with Luke. How did you embrace the process in your single years to be in a healthy place relationally and professionally? 

After graduating from Baylor University I immediately dove into my career. I moved to New York City and began working in Marketing and Public Relations at Foot Locker Corporate. I had a few other positions while I lived in Manhattan but after a year in the city, a role in Waco, Texas opened up for a new startup. The board was looking for a CEO. I wasn’t sure if I was qualified or if they would even consider a 23 year old but I went through the interviewing process and realized, perhaps before they did, that it was for me. The other people they interviewed were middle aged businessmen, always fun to add to the story! 

It ripped me apart to move from New York to Waco. I had plans to be stay in the city for as long as I could but when this opportunity arose I knew I couldn’t let it pass me by. 

Shortly after launching my company I reconnected with Luke after seeing his parents at a wedding. We had not spoken in about 2 years and had met 7 years before. I have the full story in detail written out here for those interested in the longer version:  :) Our romance was a whirlwind. Luke was living in Malibu and studying all hours of the day for law school, I was in Waco and then Dallas running my company, so we were long distance until we got married. Our road from dating to marriage happened in the same calendar year! It’s so funny though because I always tell Luke, “You know I was fine before you showed up!” Ha! Which is true in so many ways. I was finally experiencing some peace after my move back to Texas from New York, I adopted my puppy, Maui, I settled into routine and life in Waco. Things felt slower than in New York but they also felt more peaceful. I was gaining confidence in my business. I was enjoying being close to family and friends. I felt excited about my career. So in many ways, I was fine. 

That short season before engagement and even right before Luke and I began talking, is such a sweet season to look back on. I was happy for others, I was coming alive again in so many areas of life. Yes, I had loved New York and missed her dearly but I felt a settling in my spirit when I returned to Texas. I also was in no way looking for someone to date. Like I’ve said, I had my new dog, my new apartment, new friends, and in many ways a new city to explore. Waco had changed drastically after I graduated so moving back I found a whole new city to become apart of. All of the new things I was enjoying as a single person placed me in a very content season of life. 

I don’t know that I really thought much about what it would be like to be married before I was. I definitely didn’t envision moving across the country a few days after my honeymoon but I’m glad we did! I didn’t envision marrying an Ivy League Football player, but I’m glad I did that too! ;) I think if I had ever really sat down to dream about my marriage my imagination would have fallen desperately short of my current reality. 

3. One thing I remember admiring about your relationship with Luke is that you were so honest about who you were and what you'd been through with him early on - it's as if you resolved you were going to be transparent, even though you weren't sure how he would respond. How and why did honesty and transparency become a value for you? 

From the very beginning Luke led out in our relationship. He called when he said he would and he never let us get off the phone without asking me when we would speak again. He was very transparent with me first, decisive and caring so it’s much to his credit that I felt comfortable and completely myself fairly early on. 

I think transparency and honesty was something I really picked up on in college. My junior year I experienced how valuable it was in my relationships with my friends, specifically my girlfriends. So it was amazing to see that same type of honesty with Luke. Luke is very intuitive so I think in a way he would have been prepared for anything I could have possibly shared. Being vulnerable with one another allowed us to forgive each other more easily, give grace to ourselves and begin to establish who we were together, not who we had been separately. 

4. I love following you on social media and reading your blog! How did you build a following and what inspired you to start your blog and share about your newly wed life? 

Thank you Tori! I love seeing yours too. I can almost smell your pumpkin candle when you snap it. :) I think my time in new York sparked people's interest. My time at Foot Locker allowed me to engage with and meet numerous athletes and celebrities so that was probably exciting for my friends and followers to be a part of. I remember when I moved from New York back to Waco I thought my blogging endeavors would become pretty stagnant, but that wasn't the case. I enjoyed sharing my new puppy, decorating my first apartment, and sharing business ideas. I think new seasons of life can inspire us all, so as a newlywed moving across the country and to such a beautiful place, it felt natural to document for family and friends. 

5. I'm curious if you have a personal filter for what you post and share - do you consciously think about what you post or how do you stay authentic through your writing and photos? 

Such a good question. I definitely have a personal filter. I would never want to look back and see that what I was sharing placed any kind of shadow on my values or even raise eyebrows because that’s not me. On the opposite spectrum I will catch myself overthinking and when I do that I just take pause and remind myself, it’s all meant to be fun! Another way I like to stay authentic on social media is by not following accounts that aren’t life-giving. I have found that following certain accounts can lead me to comparison, which is the ultimate thief of joy. I am careful with who I follow and what their message is saying and how it’s making me feel. 

6. I've heard you talk about your decision to move from New York back to Waco to start something new in hopes of making a jump in your career - can you share with us about this decision process? Do you feel the change shifted things internally for you as well? What would you tell someone wanting to take a risk or step into a new unknown season? 

I was standing in Tribeca outside of my favorite coffee shop in lower Manhattan, Kaffe 1668, when I had my first call with one of my board members. After we got off the phone I stood outside and started crying- ha! I knew I was going to take the job in Waco and they hadn’t even offered it to me yet. I had felt the door closing (so yes, definitely things shifting internally) on my time in New York but I was desperately holding on to it. I had my identity ripped away when New York was taken away from me so when I moved to Waco I had to rebuild that identity. Luckily, I chose to rebuild on an unchanging, unwavering, unshakable foundation. 

If you or someone you know can sense that a new horizon is on it’s way, I would say, do not be afraid! It’s better than you could have ever hoped or dream. One of my best friends and I have a favorite cartoon we send to one another as seasons in life begin to change. This cartoon has Jesus bending down to this little girl who is holding a tiny stuffed bear in her arms and Jesus is reaching forward, asking her to give it to him and she’s saying, “But God, I love it!” She can’t see that Jesus is holding something behind his back. He is holding one of those obnoxiously huge teddy bears we only see on Valentine’s Day. Jesus’ response? “Trust me.” :)

7. What are some daily, weekly or even monthly rhythms you put in place to help facilitate the process (both professionally and relationally) and journey you've been on so far? And how do you bring others into this with you? 

I love this question! Anyone who knows me, especially Luke, witnesses my nonstop mind, and often body. I am go, go, go! I literally have two speeds, fully awake and engaged or exhausted and asleep. I thrive in routine. Luke and I run on a pretty tight schedule because we have so much going on. Between law school, my clients and business, family (which is quickly expanding with Whitney’s wedding in ONE week!!), friends, small group and all of the amazing opportunities that living in southern California provides, I don’t know how we would do it without structure. 

Our daily routine shapes our weekly and monthly routines greatly. A counselor once said to me, “You don’t need 180 degree turns, just 10.” That’s the perfect way to think about your days and how they’ll evolve into weeks then months and ultimately years. I believe the small choices I make today effect my life more than I could ever imagine so I try to be intentional with where I place my time and energy.

One way I practice this is every morning I make time for myself. This is often done at the gym because that's when I have the most energy in my day. I like to wake up, get out and workout! I find that making time for myself in the morning allows me to have the energy and patience with others as my day goes on because I've already taken care of something that's important to me. I started out just walking 30 minutes every morning in college and I ended up running a marathon my senior year! But that's such a metaphor for life, isn't it? Just one step in front of the other!

Luke has joined me as an early bird, which was a big shift for him. He was more of a night owl. I definitely “invited” him to join me in what, for me, has been a life changing habit, but ultimately it was his choice to make it his own. I’m so glad he did! 

Lastly, and yes, I am aware this can seem like a cliche answer but nothing helps our healthiest life rhythms more than eating well and getting enough sleep. Simple as that! 

8. Do you have any tips for those of us still learning to embrace the process and lean into risk? How can we live wholeheartedly by taking care of ourselves and how would you suggest initiating a journey of tending your heart? What can we start doing now that will lay a foundation for what's ahead? 

There has never been a more appropriately timed question for me to face…I mean answer ;) …. than this one. Luke and I are currently working on “embracing the process” as he applies for jobs after law school. We have a few amazing options, which we are weighing carefully. I find that peace comes with trust and I personally am able to embrace the process because I know the best is always yet to come. I believe it because I can see it and feel it in my own life. Many of us can look back on the past and dwell on mistakes, broken relationships, embarrassing memories, painful moments and the list goes on and on, but why? Why not look ahead and give yourself grace. Be kinder to yourself. Let go of the past. It doesn’t define you. Don’t worry too much about what’s ahead either, tomorrow has enough troubles of it’s own. Instead, look up and recognize where you are at this very moment and be at peace. 

One practical part in our routine that Luke has modeled for me is meditation. Luke has used meditation to replace lies with truth. I believe tending to your heart can be as simple as checking it daily, which can also happen during meditation.  

Leaning into risk can happen easier than you may think. Whatever it is that you have been wanting to do, whether it be blogging, photography, modeling, or building your personal brand or network, don’t be afraid to just BEGIN. I had a mentor in New York that was the private shooting coach for the Knicks. I met with him once and told him few ideas I had and things I would like to do and at the end of my rant he said, “Why aren’t you doing it?” I said something like, “Oh well I don’t have a camera.” Or “Well I didn’t exactly major in that.” He was so confused by my excuses that they begin to seem ridiculous to me too. Bounce your ideas around with people who can encourage you and help you see that, YOU CAN DO IT!

9. What does living wholeheartedly mean to you? And how have your views on this sort of lifestyle evolved over time? 

I think living wholeheartedly means living in peace with yourself and God. Giving yourself grace and letting go of relationships that don’t lift you up. Placing your energy in things that bring you life and make you excited. 

Now that I am married, living wholeheartedly seems to go hand in hand with living in agreement with Luke. When we are seeing eye to eye we are an unstoppable team! My “whole-heart” is bigger now because I carry his heart with me. 

10. Is there anyone or anything that's been inspiring you to live wholeheartedly recently? Maybe a favorite author or podcast? 


Just finished reading: Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

Currently reading: Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

Currently listening to: Why Not Now by Amy Jo Martin (Amy Jo is the brains behind Shaquille O'Neal's Twitter account) 

Emily Landers is the CEO of start-ups, Flight Social Media and Homecare Interact. She is also a Social Media Specialist for Luxe Social Media and has been working in social media marketing professionally since 2013. Upon graduating from Baylor University with a Bachelors of Arts in Speech Communication and an emphasis in Public Relations, Emily moved to New York City and began her career in Public Relations and Events at Foot Locker Corporate. During her time in New York she also worked in Tech PR with Brew Media Relations. In October of 2013, Emily began working for Luxe Social Media, which provides social media marketing for luxury hotels, destinations and brands. 

In 2014 she began the process of launching Homecare Interact, which was rebranded as Flight Social Media in 2015. Emily is currently working on the launch of her first internship program at Baylor University which will serve as an opportunity for students to utilize social media as a personal business platform, manage clients in industries of their interest and gain professional experience. Emily Landers lives in Malibu, California.