Motivational Monday: Holiday Cheer …

Edna Ferber Quote

I was talking with a few friends and they all agree that for some reason Christmas this year just does not “feel” typical.  It’s like putting on your favorite cashmere sweater only to find out that it’s too small, itchy & uncomfortable.  Something seems to be off and I am determined to figure out what it is.  This week, I have given myself a mandate – find your joy.  Find your bliss.  Find your inner Santa.

Whether it’s with families and friends or at the bottom of a mug of spiked egg nog, the mission is simple – get out of my head and get into the season.  I need the “holiday magic” – it’s better than any anti-depressant.  I am in desperate need of some “Christmas Prozac”.  So I am putting on my PJs, cranking up the holiday tunes and immersing myself in babies, baking and boozing. I figure one of the three should make this Scrooge McGrinch smile…..

[photo credit:  aubrie pick]

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Motivational Monday: Holidays…

Shaw Holiday Quote

It’s the beginning of December and I can feel the “bah hum bugs” starting to erupt.  One of the things about being the occasional stylist is that I find myself more often than not thinking about holidays several weeks if not months before they actually start.  Christmas planning started in September and decorating commenced in October in tandem with Halloween and Thanksgiving.  The poor kids that visited my house on Halloween were confused as they saw a house with split personalities – garland on the staircase, pumpkins on the stoop and a horn-of-plenty on the kitchen island.  It all read like a case of Hoarders: Holiday Edition and I am positive I may be the source of one child’s “decor PTSD”.

It all came to a head during Thanksgiving when I found myself in a post- turkey haze thinking about Valentine’s  Day decorations.  WHAT?!?  I am in a perpetual state of “holidaze” and it needs to stop for my creativity and sanity!  So I am front loading the blog up with some amazing posts on food, decorating, holiday gifts and some very special libation made exclusively for me by two fantastic mixologists (check by tomorrow).  In addition, I have a special holiday fashion feature I will be sharing to ensure that the man in your life stays on your nice list this year!

I am pushing hard to ensure that when Christmas does roll around, I will be all set and ready to kick-back and relax.  And that is what I wish for each of you this season, the opportunity to sit back and relax!  Cheers…..

[photo credit: courtney lake]

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Motivational Monday: Getting Clients To Share…

Robert Sterns Quote

Whether you are an architect or a designer, I think the above quote speaks volumes to what I do….

I pitched a project to a client last week and got the feedback that the design “didn’t quite feel like him,’ which didn’t strike me as shocking.  The pitch was based on what I thought was the ideal design for the space, but it was missing something critical; his input.  Schedules barred the client and I from having the critical “Come To Jesus” design conversation I tend to have for all my projects.  It is during this conversation that I take the initial talk we had about likes/dislikes couple it with a bit of psychographic data (I was a sociology major) and then assess how the client wants to really live in their space.

The issue is that often during the initial introductory conversation, clients have a tendency to tell me about their “fantasy spaces” — children with sticky fingers don’t exist,  pets don’t claw furniture and the daily chaos of life is kept at bay.  They exaggerate their budgets and under-estimate the time it takes to complete.  This conversation gives me a peek into how a client wants to live, not how they need to live.  It’s that second conversation where I really get the facts and come to understand their needs, their wants and eventually their dreams for their home.  This second conversation can be awkward, uncomfortable but more times than not reveals the truth on how I need to design their space to merge beauty with function with reality.

But to have the best design possible, clients have to (1) make the time to be present for this journey and (2) be open to this process because as I said, it can and often does reveal things clients don’t realize or want to admit.  As I said we didn’t have “the conversation” and the client  instantly picked up that he didn’t see those personalized  elements that spoke to him and how he wants to live in the space.  When he realized that he didn’t give me the opportunity to really dive deep with him, he instantly understood that what was lacking was ….well him.  We talked for an hour and I think we are back on track to getting him the space he wants and deserves.  At the end of our talk, the client said “I didn’t realize how much I wanted out of my space and how much I was taking it for granted that you would figure it out…”

And that is just it folks, I can figure it out with the right input.  As the quote states, design is an intimate process.  Think about it — when else do you allow a stranger into your home for weeks, months or even years at a time to essentially help you orchestrate how you will live?  I get up in your business.  I get to know dirty secrets.  I explore all the shades of what it means to be you in your most comfortable and exposed.  It’s an honor.  It’s a challenge.  It’s what I do for a living.

I don’t create fantasies.  But I do make dreams come true.

[photo credit:  courtney lake]

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Motivational Monday: Power of “No” …

Maxwell Saying No Quote

I was uncomfortable.  It’s always awkward to write the professional equivalent of a “Dear John” letter….

Thank you so much for your inquiry.  After reviewing your design needs, I believe our firm is not a good fit for the services you desire…..

Holy Scooby snacks Velma, did I really say “no” to a prospective client that had money?  Am I really at the point in my career that I can so flippantly leave cash on the proverbial table?  Am I balling so hard that I can get the pick of the client litter?  Well the short answer to the above questions is yes and no.

Yes, I did say “no” to a design inquiry and yes I am hand selecting each of my potential projects.  But then I think everyone should be selective with whom they do business.  I look at it the same as dating … you wouldn’t date someone who you didn’t think a good fit for you, so why would you enter into a business relationship?  It’s not a matter of “like” as a matter of ensuring that you can develop a good long-term relationship.  In the past two years, I have had what I would several “hot and fast” design relationships where I enter into a business arrangement with a client that goes hard and fast, leaving me under paid, under appreciated and over worked.  It’s not a sustainable model for long-term growth for a variety of reasons but the most important ones being:

  1. Clients refer other clients:  Get into a cycle of attracting your not ideal client and it’s extremely hard to get out.
  2. Balance:  Those types of working relationships can only be done (and should only be done) on the rare occasion.  Make a business out of them and you risk burning out and ruining not only the business but yourself
  3. It’s Not Fun:  Work isn’t always fun but darn it, shouldn’t you enjoy it for about 80% of the time?  So why take on clients you won’t enjoy spending significant time with?

And thus I said, no to ensure I could keep saying yes to those projects and clients I found enjoyable, exciting and fulfilling.  To be honest, I am not sure I will ever get use to saying no but like the quote infers, you have to be ready to pass on the mediocre to leave room for the extraordinary.  So my friends, I am learning to pass up on the “design bread basket” of life and will continue to fight for the truly meaty design jobs.  Scary but way more filling in the end…..

[photo: source]

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Motivational Mondays: Envy …

Envy Quote_Jean Vanier

The green-eyed monster bit me hard last week.  I like to think of myself as a champion for my friends and colleagues but for some reason last week each accolade someone else received seemed like a ding against me.  It was uncomfortable, not productive and frankly I didn’t like myself very much.  For reasons I am still trying to figure out, last week just emotionally chaffed me — everything seemed “against” me which I know was not the case.  Someone else’s gain felt like something I lost – crazy huh?  It was a weird and awkward mental place to have been as I believe a huge part of my role in social media is to trumpet & support my fellow designers/bloggers/social media peeps — it’s a small world and if you can’t support each other than it’s gonna be a lonely sad trek….

I can’t tell you the countless times I have gotten a phone call, email or a text asking me to participate in something simply because people are paying it forward.  Life and work isn’t a competition, it’s a collaboration.  None of us got to our positions in life alone and it would be foolish on my end to begrudge anyone’s success.  More so, the envy was a sign — those things I was envious of were those things I worry about the most.  The envy was the embodiment of my pain points that need to be worked on.  Envy is like a mirror — those things we are most envious of are typically the things we need to work on in ourselves.

So this week, I am picking back up my metaphorical pom poms and cheering at the top of my lungs.  Life is too short and friendships too precious to get caught up in envy.  Besides, green has never quite been my color…….. Here is to a week where we each work on our faults and hone them into an asset!  Have a great week!!!

[photo credit: Joe Shere]

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Motivational Mondays: In the Moment …

Emily Dickinson Quote_SiezeTheDay

Ahhh.  Hawaii was amazing but for reasons I didn’t quite appreciate until AFTER I got home.  We arrived on Maui and it was an instantly flurry of activities from the wedding to hikes to catching up with friends.  All of which left me tired, irritable and sunburned (yuppers, I got a nasty ol’ sunburn on my forehead…peeling and splotchy I am!).

I got so wrapped up in what I wasn’t enjoying about my time in Maui that I was missing the experience of being ON MAUI.  Come on folks – I was in on of the most freakin’ amazing places in the world and I was missing out on it.  Somewhere around Wednesday night, I ended up getting ill for reasons not fully understood, and was forced to spend the evening in bed.  Alone and sick in a hotel room in Maui and miserable.  Lying in bed forced me to slow down and really think about why I was so dissatisfied with this trip.  We were doing great stuff, we were seeing great friends and for all purposes should have been having a ball with all the stuff we were doing.

And then it hit me.

We were doing too much stuff.

So here is the deal, The Partner and I see each other every night but we don’t get to spend alot of time together doing things.  Our vacations, at least to me, are those moments where I can get some serious QT with the boy.  Essentially, vacations are about us and now there wasn’t much “us” in this vacation.  And it evidently annoyed me and was manifesting itself outwardly.  Long story made kinda shorter, I was so annoyed that I didn’t get what I defined as “quality time” with The Partner that I was not fully appreciating and seeing all the amazing time we were spending together albeit with other people around.

With the “aha moment” found, I switched gears and explained to The Partner what I was feeling.  Fortunately, the man is a saint disguised as a patient boyfriend and with a few quick calls, things got shifted and we found ourselves with a whole unscheduled day to call our own.  Knowing that we had that bit of free time completely relaxed me to enjoy the rest of the trip and the amazing company that surrounded us.  I was able to appreciate the now ……

I say all of this to get to my point of, don’t let yourself and anything else get in your way of appreciating the present.  Forever may seem like a long time, but it can go by pretty quickly if you are always focused on what is to come or what isn’t there like me on vacation.

So I am going to take my own words and focus on the now by getting some design work done!  Have a great week and I am happy to be back…..

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Hawaii Bound …..

overpacked for vacation

6 pairs of swim trunks?  Seriously, why did I pack 6 pairs of swim trucks? It seemed logical at the time and a sound decision.  But then packing in a frenzy always leads to poor planning on my part.  But nonetheless, I am off to Hawaii for the week and I am praying it will be filled with lazy days on a beach drinking alcoholic items from a hollowed out pineapple…..

So I apologize up front if my blogging is a bit lax but I hope you understand.  Sometimes a boy has to unplug to remained fully charged.  While I won’t be blogging, I will be on FacebookTwitter and Insta.gram documenting my time chill-laxin’…..

Have a GREAT week!