Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

4 Tips for Falling in Love with Your Business

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Feeling burned out? If you are constantly giving to everyone but yourself, you can start to feel resentment. Believe me, I’ve been there – several times! And over the years I’ve also discovered that there is one sure-fire method to make you fall in love with what you do again. But it may not be what you think.

Because to rediscover that spark, that thing that gives you the passion for what you do, you have to step away. Yep, you read that right. But if you try these 4 steps, I promise you’ll come back to work ready to take it on with new gusto!

  1. Go away. And I mean AWAY. One day could help, but for me to really unwind, it typically takes several days. If you don’t want to spend a ton of money, then at least check out of business mode. Go drive in the country with your windows down and breathe in the fresh air. Take a spin through a museum or a walk in the park. Plan a long weekend at the beach or the lake. Just get out of your office and turn your phone off. Studies show that if you don’t give yourself a break, you’ll never be as creative and effective as you need to be. You really need to recharge your batteries and you can only do that if you step away from your office.  And for me if there is a component of nature involved, my relaxation goes up tremendously!
  2. Breathe deep. You need to relax and get your mojo back, and one of the best ways to do that is through meditation and deep breathing. Don’t believe me? Well the American Medical Association is now talking about big benefits from deep breathing, like elevating your mood, releasing tension, bringing clarity to your thinking, and boosting your immune system. That’s perfect for burnout! Add in meditation to reduce stress and improve concentration and you have a winning combination. And I combine these with yin yoga so not only my mind feels relaxed, but my body feels better too!
  3. Treat yourself well. You are your company’s most important asset, so you should be treating yourself like gold. That means it is critical for you to take time out of your day to exercise – look at it as an investment in your long-term performance. But for you to get the best benefits, find the type of exercise you really like. If you dread it, you are unlikely to keep it up. Plus, you need to take in the right fuel to keep you running like a well-oiled machine. And we are all different with what foods work for our bodies. At the Institute of Integrative Nutrition where I have been trained as a health and wellness coach, they call this bio-individuality. It’s the idea that one person’s food is another person’s poison. So learn which foods and vitamins make you feel best and make them a priority. Taking care of yourself isn’t some new age mumbo-jumbo – a Forbes study showed that CEOs who took time out of their day to exercise and eat right were 30% more inspired and effective at work. So take care of YOU and your take care of your company.
  4. Rethink your priority. That’s right, just one. The idea of priorities (plural) is a somewhat recent change to this word that was made in the US in the 1940s. This word originally meant the ONE most important thing, because you really can’t focus on more than one thing at a time right? So what is your priority? I talked a few weeks ago about the fabulous book Essentialism. To find out what’s most important to you, write down everything you are doing as a function of your job and then really start thinking about what is critical and what is really nonessential. And I mean cut it down to the bone. Multitasking is a myth, so what do you really want to focus on? Getting that clarity, and ridding yourself of things that are holding you back or tying you down will truly make you free! Your passion won’t be pulled in 20 directions, and instead you will get fired up and ready to focus on that one thing that will make the biggest difference.

I’m in my sweet spot of really concentrating on these 4 core ideas right now – and it’s been paying off in a BIG way! I’m happier than I’ve ever been, and I am really feeling the fire again, but not for business as usual. It’s for a new and improved version of my business – one that feeds my family and my soul.

So what do you think? Where have you made changes this year to give you a better, more productive, and happier business and life? And if you haven’t made changes yet, what’s your plan? Let me know in the comments section below!







The Joy of Loving Your Work

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Today was an amazing day. So amazing, I forgot to post my blog this morning because I was shooting my home for an upcoming issue of Traditional Home. Days like today are the fun days. You know, the days that it feels like you’re living in your sweet spot!

And I’ve talked about my word of the year for weeks now in my 52 Weeks of Joy series. I’ve mentioned how I’m rediscovering or creating new joys in my life. It’s a daily practice. But believe me, it’s not as easy as it sounds. There are dozens of reasons every day or at least every week that can bring you down if you aren’t vigilant.

One place where it can definitely be challenging to find joy is in our work. Most of us spend more time each day at work than doing anything else. So it’s really important to our happiness and well being to make sure that our job brings us joy many more days that not.

All of us have had times when the joy of what we do is drained right out of our workdays thanks to deadlines and stress. It can be hard to get motivated enough to get out of bed when your work isn’t inspiring you. And even though I am passionate about the work I do, I can’t tell you the number of times over my 18 years in business,  when I’ve thrown my hands up in the air and said, that’s it, I QUIT! Just shut the doors, we’re done! And when we add on top of that our responsibilities at home, it can really get overwhelming.

So if you are feeling burned out, drained or overworked, or if you can’t remember the last time you felt like you were working in your “sweet spot”, then it’s time for you to commit to finding joy in your work. Sometimes the problem is that your job or industry has changed due to factors outside of your control and you may start to ask yourself why you continue to do this job everyday. And believe it or not, that’s a good thing. When anything in your life is so painful that you are motivated to make a change, that’s exactly when something amazing is going to happen!

So what steps do we take to put that joy back or maybe find it for the first time? Well as problematic as it can be to watch all those fabulous photos, amazing destinations, and incredible projects everyone is posting on social media because it makes us envious or think that we’re doing something wrong, it can also be motivating. Yes, “Comparison is the thief of joy”, but it can also light a fire under you to make your life what you dream it can be. I do turn to Instagram often for inspiration including ideas for what I want in my life especially in the way of travel with my family.

So if you’ve lost the happiness and passion you had for your business, what can you do? I have some ideas for you:

First, stop everything for 10 minutes today. I want you to turn off your phone and your email and shut your door. Then I want you to get a piece of paper and a pen, and I want you to write down why you got into this business in the first place. And do not get up until you have a reason that isn’t “I want to make money.” Because you could do ANYTHING to make money. You could probably do a lot of things that didn’t have the amount of aggravation and stress you’re feeling right now.

What was it? You need to get back to whatever the motivation was for your business, and rediscover it so you can bring back your joy!

You may also want to remember what positives you get from your business. What 2 or 3 things do you love about your business? Maybe you like the freedom of your schedule. Maybe you like not answering to a “boss.” Or maybe you like being in charge of your destiny – whatever it is, you need to write those down and remember them, too.

You know what else is really the enemy of happiness? Being overwhelmed. That’s why I wanted you to create a moment of zen, without phones or distractions, to focus on what is important to you. I wanted you to stop the “overwhelm” for just a few minutes or better yet a few minutes every day with meditation or yoga. That is definitely working for me this year!

When your to-do list seems as long as the Great Wall of China, taking that first step on the wall can seem like an enormous and almost impossible task. But that one step is everything. If you can focus on one goal, one task, just one step, it can really help you take action. Taking action, even a small one, is really motivating. It’s an accomplishment, and that can really help you keep going.

Remind yourself of any successes you have in your business too! I’m guilty of not doing this sometimes myself. We get so caught up in grinding away at everything we have to do that we forget to stop and say “Hey, I just did a BIG thing there!” Maybe you want to make a list on a white board where you can see it all the time. Or maybe you want to even set a reminder to have a glass of champagne when you get home. However you have to do it, set a routine to celebrate all of your accomplishments, your JOYS, from small ones to really big ones!

And finally, be sure you are finding inspiration for yourself. Inspiration really does lead to joy! So if you need to go to a museum, or read a book, or take a day trip somewhere, or go to the spa when you should be working so you can relax enough to be inspired, then do it! I suspect that inspiration and creativity were one of the reasons you listed for why you got into this business in the first place, so find ways to bring them back into your work life.

Here’s to us all having more days in our “sweet spot” this year!

Joyfully yours,







5 Ways to Reset Your Creativity

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I have a question for you: Why did you get into the business of being a designer in the first place? It was because you’re a creative, right?! Too often, all of those things that are critical for running a business can keep us from flexing our creativity muscles – and that creativity is actually key to our business. That can seem like a vicious circle because day-to-day business can be a creativity killer, but without being creative, you aren’t going to have any business.

Being more creative, really delivering the best designs that you possibly can, is going to prove that you’re worth what you charge. It’s going to bring you new clients, it will get you published, and it will help you expand your business so you can hire more people, which then allows you more time to be creative.

Designers at ALL levels still work at this. You don’t just wake up one day and realize that you’ve peaked creatively and so you no longer have to push yourself! People at the top of their game really have to work even harder to continuously deliver something that is fresh and inspired!


So how do you kick your creativity into high gear when you’re super-stressed and overwhelmed with the business side of your company? Well I’ve got 5 tips to get you going:

1. Seek out inspiration. To be creative, you have to be INSPIRED. That can be different for every one of you, but set aside time to find your inspiration! That can be going to a museum, traveling, going to a fashion show, or looking at art books and magazines that are not the usual shelter publications. But set aside time for this – don’t let it be negotiable.

2. Schedule creative time. Yes, I am aware that sometimes you aren’t going to “feel like” being creative, but if you don’t block out time to focus on creativity, it’s never going to happen. You have to set aside time to let the right side of your brain, the creative side, take over.  Once the left side of your brain – that’s the analytical side – is engaged – it takes about 15 minutes of a break to get the creative side of your brain to kick back in! So you can’t switch back and forth. That’s why I set a specific time to go into my workroom and create designs. My team knows that I cannot be interrupted! And I turn off my phone and my email – that keeps me from switching from one side of the brain to the other, which really prevents me from creating my best and most creative work!


3. Trick yourself. Science is on your side here! Research has shown that you can stimulate that right side, or creative side, of your brain. Laughing triggers that side of your brain and makes it more active, and looking at the sky blue color does the same thing. It stimulates the creative center of your brain. Here’s a crazy trick that works, too: Squeeze a ball in your left hand for 45 seconds, and then repeat that 3 times. That creates a reaction in the right side of your brain and gets it all woken up and firing off ideas.

4. Get outside. Getting fresh air – a great hit of oxygen – does two things for you. First, studies show that it will fire up that creativity center in your brain. Second, it’s also a fabulous place to find inspiration!

5. Don’t lose focus! But here’s a warning – do not ever look at your email while you’re trying to be creative. Reading makes the left side of the brain take over, and you don’t want that to happen when you want the right side of your brain to be at its best! So keep your email closed, don’t try to text, and don’t start surfing Facebook. Stay focused!

Use these 5 tips to fire up your creativity and rediscover your passion for this business. I want you to exercise your creative muscle just like you get exercise for your body. So get out there and hit your creative zone!







Tobi TV: 4 Ways That Art Can Inspire Your Decor

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I love original artwork! I collect a lot of original art, and I love to use it when I’m designing homes for clients – it actually often inspires my designs. One-of-a-kind pieces really add personality that can’t be recreated in another house or room.


The key to using original art in your home’s decor is to let it inspire the rest of the room, and to allow the art to be the focal point. It really will give you space that is all your own and is full of personality.

So let’s take a look at some of my top tips for using art to inspire you:

I’m feeling inspired already! Here is a quick recap of those top tips:

  1. In a neutral room, use a brightly colored painting to add that pop! You don’t always want to match to the painting, but do use the colors in the art to inspire the palette for the rest of the room.
  2. Choose art that has sentimental value for you, or that reminds you of a special moment or person in your life. It will add meaning and emotion to your room!
  3. If you have a piece of art that’s by a famous artist, like the painting in my client’s home by Dale Chihuly, hang it front-and-center so it can be enjoyed by your family and your guests.
  4. If you’re a collector, edit your art so that pieces will complement each other, and will complement the rest of your decor.

What art or items do you collect? And how can they inspire your home’s design? I hope these tips have you looking at your art in a new way and seeing how each piece can inspire a room’s decor! Please let me know in the comments below how you’re using art in your home!







For more tips and ideas, be sure to check out my YouTube Channel, featuring every episode of Tobi TV!

Top 5 Tips for Picking the Perfect Paint Color

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It is so hard for people to select paint colors for their home! There are just too many colors and choices out there – which can leave many standing in front of a wall of paint chips with no clue how to choose. Even selecting a white, which you would think would be an easy choice, can drive you crazy. Should you choose a warm white, a cool bluish white, or even a pink-tinged white?

I have 5 fail-proof ways that I choose paint colors for my projects! Give these a try to make your selection process so much easier:

1. Let fabric be your guide. When I start on the design for a space, I always go to my fabric room first. Fabrics can help set the tone and mood for the entire room! As you can see in the bedroom below, I chose the fabric for the drapery and pillows first, and the color in the center of those squares gave me the perfect inspiration for the wall color. That makes the room feel pulled together and cohesive!

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2. Select paint color last. You read that right – I always choose my paint color LAST. That’s because you could choose a tone or hue that actually ends up clashing with everything else in a room if you aren’t careful. Look at the photo below – I had to select the perfect creamy white color for this dining room so it would complement the drapery and the lighter-toned furniture. If I had gone with a white that had pink undertones or blue undertones, it would have changed the entire look of the room – and probably not for the better.

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3. Art can be inspiration. I love to use original art in my design work. It makes the room more unique and helps show the personality of my clients. But it also can be the perfect inspiration for a room’s palette. In the bedroom below, you can see how that painting inspired the plum, taupe, and grey colors in the room, and helped tie the whole look together.

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4. Get moody. Another thing I always keep in mind when selecting paint colors is how the room will be used. In a bedroom, like the one above, you want to set a calming and restful tone. But in a room like the game room below, I wanted to punch things up for an energetic and happy space! This bold yellow really makes an impact and highlights the playful mood I was going for. And by the way, that color was also inspired by a fabric in the space – a sofa that’s out of frame on the other side of the room.

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5. Look up. Because of my reputation for working with color, I think people expect that I use almost every hue in the spectrum, but that isn’t the case. I actually stay in the top 2 or 3 squares on any paint swatch for my selections, rather than the darker tones near the bottom. I find that the colors up at the top of those paint cards are really the ones that most people like in a room, so that’s where my sweet spot is.

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And here’s a bonus tip for you – go with colors you LOVE! If they make you happy, then you know you’re on the right track.

So what do you think of my top 5 tips? Do you have a trick that works when you select paint colors? Let me know in the comments section below!

Colorfully yours,