Motivational Monday: Giving Back ….

Port of Oakland - edited

The above pic is Oakland.  It’s where I live.  Here is a little story on how I came to be an “East Bayer”.  You see buying real estate in the Bay Area is sorta like buying Berkshire Hathaway stocks – you spend alot to get very little but what you do own is worth its weight in gold.  Simply put, even with the combined incomes of me and The Partner, we could not afford to live in San Francisco.   So we expanded our search to include the “East Bay” which pretty much means Berkeley, Oakland and Emeryville (sorry Richmond).  Eventually, we found ourselves in Oakland and purchased a fantastic 3-story loft in 2008.  While I went to the East  Bay, kicking and screaming I quickly came to be one of its biggest proponents …. or so I thought.

Melissa Davis, owner of Ruby Press PR, has me beat.  Not only is she a long time resident of Oakland (since 2003) she even moved the headquarters of her business to a historic building in downtown Oakland.  Her roots run deep on this side of the bay and it’s one of the reasons she is upping the ante by publishing a book all about Oakland aptly named This is Oakland…..

This Is Oakland

A photo-driven guide book to the city that explores all the wonderful nooks and crannies of one of the most underrated cities in America.  Well actually I take that last part of the sentence back since last year, The New York Times published a list called “The 45 Places to Go in 2012″ and Oakland ranked #5.  Did I mention that the city I call home fell nicely between London and Tokyo. And oh Oakland was the highest ranking city in North America: higher than New York City, Los Angeles or San Francisco. Booyah!

Enough with the bragging but in This is Oakland, Melissa explores all the wonderful businesses and people who make Oakland so special and unique.  With stunning photography by Kristen Loken, you get the sense of life and vitality of a city that at one time was on the brink…..

Miss Ollie


But all this awesomeness comes at a price.  To help fund the publishing of the book, Melissa has started a Kickstarter campaign.  During this time of giving, I ask that you look at her video and think about donating to her fund.  She has some amazing gifts for those who donate and honestly, many exceed the cost of the donation!  So open up your hearts (and your wallets) and help Melissa and myself celebrate the city we both call home!

[photo credit: port of oakland authority//kristen loken]

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Motivational Mondays: Discipline …

Discipline quote

Through high school and college, I was the master of discipline.  Up at 8am, class, work and an hour of fun with friends before hitting the books until 2am.  Rinse and repeat.  Upon graduation, I lost all that ….partly because I was adrift without a focus and partly because I was tired.  The majority of my life with the single purpose of getting out of the Midwest, getting into a good school and a decent job.

Done. Done. Done.  Then the cold finger of reality decided to give me a “life prostate check” and I found myself disillusioned with many aspects of my life, but especially my career.  Now what?

Fast forward to now and I find myself in a much different situation.  I lack the discipline because I fear the results.  What happens if I put all my eggs into one basket and I fail?  What happens if I find out I am a mediocre designer at best?  It fills me with dread and paralysis at times.  I sat at my desk last week agonizing over a presentation and honestly scared that I was presenting options the client wouldn’t like.  I decided to take a break and order Chinese food — procrastination ala  General Tso chicken — and as I cracked open the fortune cookie, the above fortune was waiting for me…..

There are moments when I wholeheartedly believe that the universe, powers that be, whatever you think are cheering me on.  How on earth could it be otherwise when you get a fortune that tells you to get off your arse and get back to work?  Well that is how I interpreted it.  Seriously folks, I can’t make this up and it is a wake up call to me to work hard like I did so long along in college.  Hit the mat hard.  Proverbially sweat it out every day even when I am tired, a new episode of The Vampire Diaries is calling me and a really good bottle of red wine would hit the spot.  Different distractions than I had a decade ago but still the same notion — they keep me from focusing on me being the best I can do in work and life.

So what I may not be the best designer in the world right now.  I need to get over myself and start repeating …”but you could be the best if you tried.”  And my friends is the true definition of discipline….motivating yourself to be the best you can and changing that internal dialogue into something more.  Something positive.  Something you want to say out loud.

Who would have thought Chinese food would have such a profound impact on my outlook this week.  And to think I almost ordered pizza……

[picture credit: Courtney Lake]

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Motivational Mondays: Be Present ….

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote_EnjoyLife

I have glitter in places that I haven’t had since 1997 when I was wearing Adidas track pants, shiny muscle tees and twirling glow sticks at some all night rave.  No, I am not trying to relive my youth (my liver thanks me) but am elbow deep in a holiday decorating project to be shot this week.  I never thought I would be trying to channel Christmas in 80 degree weather while contemplating my costume for an upcoming Halloween party.  Needless to say I have not been living in “the moment” and really trying to be present.

I know the topic of “present” gets tossed around a lot.  Be in the moment.  Live in the now. Stop worrying about the future.  It’s kinda like saying …. oh don’t think about tomorrow until  ….well tomorrow!  I am a planner at heart.  I make lists.  Worrying is like an Olympic sport for me.  I may not be able to throw a football but I swear I could worry a grown man into tears.  I have found myself torn between being a dutiful son, an attentive partner and a supportive friend.  Now add in a successful business person as well as a good boss and the idea of being present almost makes me laugh if I wasn’t trying to keep from crying.

I can’t say I mastered even 20% of this balancing act but I did have an “Oprah Moment” last week thanks to my dog.  Sometimes I am amazed and humbled by what my little sweet mutt of a companion teaches me on  a continued basis.  Early last week, my dog ran into my bedroom and jumped into the bed and proceeded to wiggle on his back in a mix that I can only explain as “complete doggy ecstasy”.  It was odd, funny and completely appropriate since I had just retrieved our sheets from the dryer and they were still warm to the touch.  My dog was relishing the moment – fresh sheets.  He was using all his senses to enjoy a fleeting experience.  He saw opportunity, seized it with abandon and gave the proverbial middle finger (if dogs had fingers) to what I or anyone else thought.

You doubt me?  The above picture was taken when Scruffy was in his fit of happiness.  If you can tell me that he isn’t fully lost and enjoying the moment, then I can’t help you.  So this week, I am going to blast Christmas music, wear my Halloween costume and search for the perfect stuffing recipe for Thanksgiving and enjoy every moment because this is my reality.  I can’t change my crazy life but I can at least appreciate the ride that it is taking me on…..

[picture credit: Courtney Lake]

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Motivational Mondays: Autumn ….

Autumn Quote_Albert Camus

I think it’s true that you always want what you don’t or can’t have.  For me, that is a true Fall season.  Living in California has a multitude of perks but true, distinct seasons is not one of them.  Yes, it’s 70 degrees in October and we only get one real rainy month, but I would trade many of those things for three months of clear skies and crisp air.  The ability to layer on sweaters and coats and enjoy a glass of hot cider to chase away the evening chill.

More so, Fall is really an inspiring time for me.  Maybe its the leaves changing colors or all the combinations of color and textures that emerge from people’s closets but I always find myself inspired and excited for this time of year.  Combine this with my recent trip to London and I my head is swimming in a delicious stew of concepts and design snippets ready to be brought to life.

So this week, I am going to fully embrace Fall and all the inspiration it has to offer.  Heck, I may even pull out a turtleneck or two to get into the mood!  Okay, I probably won’t but it is a nice idea……

[pictures courtesy Courtney Lake]

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Motivational Mondays: Taking a Nap …..

Bob Hope Quote

I know…I know.  Everyone says that you need to battle through the jet lag but Poppa is tired and needs a nap (and a shower)!   But I have stories and so many goodies to share that I am just bursting from my time at the London Design Festival!  I promise, it will be worth the wait …..

[photo credit]

Check me out on Pinterest, Twitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

Motivational Monday: Brand Awareness…

Jeff Bezos BRand Quote

This week I am in Seattle participating in a workshop with friend and talented lifestyle expert Kelley Moore on how to extend your brand to television and print.  I have been thinking for a while about the blog and the business trying to figure out exactly what they represent.  What is it about the blog and about my design business that make them unique, interesting and appealing.  After a serious bout of brainstorming, I realized some of the aspects of the blog I have strayed away from and I am okay with that.  I always said that the blog was a diary of my thoughts, aspirations, fears and dreams with a healthy dose of snarky humor for good measure.

However, when I applied that same focus to the business, I am seeing that there are aspects that have yet to be flushed out and fully realized.  I now know there are some things I need to do to get myself on track for success.  Some of those are scary for a variety of reasons but needed.  I can’t have the brand I want if I am not willing to do the work.  If I can’t stand behind my brand, then who will?  So I am excited for the next several days to take some time to really delve into what makes me brand tick and see how I can push it to the next level.

Fingers crossed.

Here is to each of you realizing the power of your own personal brand and taking the steps to invest in it!

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Thank You……

Tortoise and the Hare wind-up Toys on a Track.

I think the above quote really explains perfectly the last 72 hours.

To give a brief refresher, the team over at Modenus gave five bloggers the opportunity of a lifetime.  Simply put, we were given 36 hours to garner as many votes as possible to win a week-long trip to the UK to attend the London Design Festival.  So starting Friday through Saturday afternoon, it was a flurry of tweeting, emailing, Facebook posting, texting and tried and true groveling to garner as many votes as possible before the deadline.

And guess what?  I won… 24 votes.  Literally a handful of votes and I am overwhelmed by the sense of tenacity, love and support that I received from everyone.  I always knew you were supportive, but you all became my team — strangers were texting their friends asking for support.  Readers were tweeting and posting on my behalf.  Friends were asking mere acquaintances to vote for me.  My dream and goal became the unified goal of everyone else and it was amazing.  It was your tenacity to the end that helped me win and I don’t take that for granted.

I am touched beyond belief and actually quite emotional.  While it is great to win and be able to spend time in London, the win is deeper than that.  The sense of community I felt this weekend was nothing short of amazing.  Working for yourself can feel very insular at times and this was a huge wake-up call to me.  I am part of this amazing community of caring, dynamic and kind individuals who value my journey and are adding to my story.

So as London approaches, lets start writing this new chapter and see where it takes us.  Thank you again with all my heart…….

[photo credit]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness.  You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.