Archive for the ‘52 Weeks of Joy’ Category

The Joy of Imperfection

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Perfection. It’s what so many of us strive for, especially creatives like me. We can envision a perfect project, a perfect home, a perfect family, a perfect life. And if we can dream it, then we can do it right? Wrong. Nobody and nothing is perfect. And trying to be perfect is a perfect way to be unhappy.

I have never considered myself a perfectionist, though many people call me one. But I agree my standards are high (really high). Thankfully I have always had a point in every project and in every day where things, my work and life, are good enough and I am satisfied. But I do admit that I my high standards and my giant goals have taken a toll on me. I bet you can relate.

But you know what I am excited about? I am thrilled that being imperfect is “IN” right now. We might say “Imperfect is the new Perfect”. Mindsets like “Start before you’re ready.”, “Stop the glorification of busy!”, and “Embrace the real you!” are becoming ever popular. Designers and design blogs are talking about how we really live and how projects really go instead of the perfection we see in design magazines. And in a our world of the selfie, many people are saying no more photoshopping, just be yourself.

One of my favorite books ever is The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown.  It is life changing, so please go buy it right now. Brene is so wise, and she’s right–embracing your imperfections is a gift. If you read my blog on practicing authenticity last week you may be thinking that topic and this one go hand in hand and I agree.

Being authentic is being imperfect. It’s letting people see your flaws. It’s not waiting to show up in life until you have all your ducks in a row. I think people are more inspired by seeing your mistakes, your flaws, your imperfections and seeing how you deal with them. They are inspired by how you keep showing up in the world and sharing your gifts through your challenges and failures. Imperfection is amazing. And it’s time we all embrace being our perfectly imperfect selves. It’s really the most refreshing thing I can think of.

This year for me is about being kinder to myself and finding more joy. It’s about being happy with things the way they are. And if I am trying to be perfect all the time, joy evades me. If I expect my husband to be perfect or my child to be, then I am in for a lot of heartache. And if I expect my work to be perfect, or my days to go perfectly, I will be constantly disappointed because there is no such thing.

Being happy is all about how you frame things. When I was younger (as in 10 years ago, not when I was 10, ha!), I could get upset so easily. Mistakes were so frustrating. Ok, so maybe I WAS a perfectionist. But life has a way of keeping us in check, of keeping us humble. It has a way of reminding us we are not in charge. And that nothing will ever be perfect. And if we are waiting for perfection before we are happy, before we find joy, we will be waiting forever. I got tired of waiting.

So I’ve learned to laugh at imperfect days and situations. And I’m learning to love myself just the way I am. If I can’t fit in my skinny jeans, I’m still amazing. Skinny jeans are over-rated. But what’s not overrated is enjoying life in spite of your imperfections and giving yourself a break and showing yourself and others kindness and understanding. Fourteen days from now I will be in Aruba for my 15th wedding anniversary. I will not be as skinny in my bathing suit as I might wish, but you better believe those views will still be as gorgeous, the sunsets as beautiful, the down time will still be replenishing, and now that I have learned to “embrace the glorious mess that I am”, the time with my husband will be more special than ever.

It’s time to embrace imperfection, my loves. You are perfectly imperfect just the way you are. You are exactly where and how you are supposed to be at this moment. So like Liz Gilbert says…”Embrace the glorious mess that you are”, and I promise you that life will bring so much joy!

xo,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Joy of Practicing Authenticity

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Authenticity. It’s a buzz word these days. Be Authentic. Be yourself.

I strive for authenticity. It’s important to me to be real. But upon some reflection lately, I think I have fallen short in really embracing the authentic me.  We probably all struggle with this more than we realize. I love that Brene Brown says it’s a practice. That’s a much better way to think of it because we will never be perfectly authentic all the time.

It’s difficult to really show up, to be your true self. And It’s hard to admit when we are less than authentic. It’s vulnerable. But I think it’s time for me to make some changes. If I were grading myself on my authenticity, I would give myself a B+. I feel like I am usually myself when it comes to dealing with others and the “me” I put out in the world, but I know even that version of me is more edited than I want to admit. Thankfully it’s becoming a trend to be more real, unedited, less photoshopped than ever before and I am working on embracing this way of life. It’s hard. And it’s my relationship with myself that I most need to dig deeper to further uncover the real me.

One definition of authentic is “representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself”. Another definition…”not false or copied; genuine, real”. And I am at a point in my life where it’s time to get real with myself. It’s time to go farther outside my comfort zone than ever, push myself to reach those dreams that are so deep and private that we are afraid to even speak them. You know the ones? I know you have them too. On second thought, maybe it’s moving INTO my comfort zone that I need– it’s being comfortable in my own skin that I am looking for.

Living an authentic life to me means being true to what you want. It means having the courage to say no to what the world wants from you or your family wants from you, or what you thought you wanted at once time, if you now know in your gut it’s not what you really want anymore. It means being courageous enough to speak up when you need rest, or something isn’t fun anymore or the pressure is too much. It takes admitting to yourself what you really want and believing you can reach it and that you deserve it.  It’s about no longer dismissing thoughts or dreams as things you will do “one day” or when you make enough money or when your kids are grown. 

Your body is your authenticity litmus test. How many of you are tense most every day? Are your shoulders and neck tight? Do you feel pain in your low back or chest? Does your head ache? Your jaw hurt? That’s your body trying to tell you something. And I have had many of those feeling for years and just kept pushing through them, as if one day my to do list would magically get shorter and pressure would subside.

How many of you wake in the morning thinking “I’d give anything if I didn’t have to do (fill in the blank) today? And how many days do you wake up and start your day in a dead run because you are already way behind and it’s not even breakfast time yet? Now don’t get me wrong, for the most part I love my job and I love my life. But I am definitely hitting a phase where I have decided to recalibrate a bit. It’s time to lean into a few dreams and goals and areas of interest that I have been hesitant to embrace and its time to step away from some things that have run their course or at least time to reinvent them so they are fun and exciting again.

For a girl who’s been striving all her life, I love this idea of unbecoming. I want more time freedom. I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it.  And don’t we all, right? But more and more I have been asking myself, “when?” When is it time to stop doing some of the things I think I should, in lieu of some of the things I want? There’s a great Oprah quote that says “Do what you have to do, until you can do what you want to do.” And I have been doing a lot of “have to’s” for years. Of course as I have gotten older and my brand more known, I have gotten to sprinkle in a lot more “want to’s” like product lines and exciting collaborations. But I want even more “want to” in my life. It’s time.

I am ready to tell my gut and my heart and my soul YES to my deepest desires. And I have already started in that direction with moving my studio home, traveling less, being home more with my family and pups, and being more selective with the things I say yes to. But for the rest of this year, I am going full speed ahead with what my heart wants. I am leaning in to my desires. I am going to play more (we all need more play and pleasure) and find more joy than ever.

I am tired of hustling. Of proving. I am done with that way of life. I am taking more time off than ever before. I am closing my office 4 weeks between now and year’s end AND taking a week-long vacation on top of that. I believe I’ve earned it! I am taking Friday’s off all summer to spend with my pre-teen who before I know it will be heading off to college. Next year I may even close the whole month of July, take off all the other summer Fridays, and close for 4 or 5 other weeks during the year. That excites me! That feels reckless and free. And I suspect that if I do this, I will make more money and live my passion more than ever. Tim Ferris, author of the 4 hour work week was genius when he said “Make as much money as you can in as little time as possible so you can do what you want with all the rest of your time!” Yes time! That is what my authentic self craves.

And I am bringing this freedom to my business this year! I am launching an all new website in a few months that embodies all the things I am passionate about in design and consulting and life I am redesigning many of my classes and courses and have some really progressive ideas around my consulting business that are totally lighting my fire but will take less hustle to provide. And I am taking only the design clients that are a perfect fit for me and my philosophy of life. I couldn’t be more proud of that! I have been selective for years, but I am taking that to a whole new level and I know because of that, I will bring my best work in years to a select few ideal clients. And I will be more fulfilled.

My business is smaller (thanks to outsourcing) and stronger (thanks to clarity) and more profitable than ever because of these changes, and I am becoming more rested and fulfilled and healthy than I have been in years. I feel like I am right in the middle of my sweet spot. Exactly where I am meant to be. And my body is telling me that’s true too! I am easing into my days and relaxing at night more than I have in 15 years and it feels oh so good! Until I made these changes, I don’t remember a morning in years that I felt relaxing and like I had a choice of where to start my day or what to work on or a choice to not work at all. It’s liberating and it feels like the real me is in charge, maybe for the first time ever.

So how do you feel?  Take a minute and check in with yourself. Check your shoulders and your gut. Check your jaw. Are you tense? Are you overworked? Are you taking jobs that don’t inspire you just because you don’t think you have a choice? Well you do. You can choose you. You can lean into your authentic self and be better, healthier, happier and more profitable because of it. It takes courage but it’s all in your power.

So embrace your authentic self. For a hustler like me, it takes practice. I feel anxious when I am not crazy busy. I feel nervous when I am not hustling. It’s all I’ve known for years but I know with practice I’ll figure it out. I know with time it will feel great. An authentic life may seem ordinary, but that’s where the magic happens. I’ve been striving for the extraordinary and I agree with Brene Brown. You can get so focused on becoming important, that you miss THE most important stuff that is already there in the ordinary parts of your life. So consider getting back to ordinary. Your body, your family, your clients and those commitments you say YES to will thank you, because they will get the very best version of you.

Here’s to being true to ourself. We only have one life to live, so live a life that you love! I’ll see you there.

Joyfully yours,

 

 

 

 

 

The Joy of Saying YES to Yourself!

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How many days do you give yourself permission to follow your heart? To listen to your body? To be in charge of your own schedule? When I am consulting with other business people and creatives, I call this driving the bus. And it sounds great, doesn’t it. Many of us want to yell “Hell yes I am in charge of my own life!” but how many of us really are? Probably very few.

We are taught from a very young age that someone else is in charge of the “rules.” We are expected to meet other peoples’ expectations and deadlines and parameters. We learn that we “should” do a lot of things and that we “have to” be a certain way or check certain boxes or finish certain activities to be accepted, successful, popular. We learn that life is all about achievements and belonging instead of following your heart or your gut.

There is a lot of lip service these days given to being authentic, to “you doing you.” But I don’t feel like we give ourselves or others permission to really do that. And I have to tell you that I am over this masochistic way of living. It takes a toll on your physical and mental health but especially your happiness and joy. I have been a rule follower for about 45 years now. But I am tired of following the rules someone else created for me, or worse, that I set for myself based on achieving some level of success or attaining the approval of others – my family and society.

Whether your personal set of rules and expectations come from your parents and their core beliefs (this is where most of us start our rules), from society, from your professional industry, from your political affiliation, or just from your own super-high standards like I have, it’s time to challenge those rules, to dig deep and have the courage to design a life that really brings joy. It’s time to say YES to ourselves.

I want this more than anything for my daughter. Recognizing now that I am a recovering workaholic – addicted to work and achievement – I have a lot of wisdom to share with her about what an authentic life looks like. I know that no amount of success, accolades, awards, or accomplishments really feed your soul. And trust me, being on this sort of hamster wheel is exhausting. I’ve learned that the things that are truly meaningful in life are about connection – true connection with those you love plus loving and accepting yourself and a whole lot less proving, hustling, and trying to work our way to some level of happiness. Working your way to Joy just doesn’t happen long term.

So as you may recall, I have two resolutions this year – yes only two. That is saying a lot, because this major goal-setting, workaholic mama is crazy about goals and resolutions. I have had years where I had 10 or more. Geez! How did I think I could focus on 10 things at once?!? But this year my two resolutions are find more joy and love myself more.

And loving myself more means saying YES to myself. So what does that mean? It means when I feel like lying in bed all day on a Saturday or even on a Tuesday morning…I say YES and rearrange my schedule! It means when I feel my gut and my neck get all tense and tight because I have committed to something that I shouldn’t have and I ask myself if I can back out of it…I say YES and I make the call to un-commit! It means that if the old version of me is saying I “should” be accomplishing my next big goal or dream and my authentic self says I just want to lay low for a while and rest…I say YES! Saying yes to yourself takes courage. It means ignoring FOMO or “the fear of missing out” in exchange for putting your health and wellbeing first. It means taking a chance that someone will be mad at you, disappointed, or that they will forget you or not ask you next time and that’s scary. But it’s also empowering.

Most of us, especially women, spend a lifetime denying ourselves and our wishes in exchange for doing what makes other people happy. Especially in the South, we are taught to be quiet and look pretty. We are taught to go along with what other people want and don’t make anyone feel uncomfortable. We are taught to say yes to everyone and everything but us. We are taught the “responsible,” “admirable,” “appropriate” thing to do is what other people want us to do, or what we said we were going to do. We are not supposed to change our minds. In many ways, we are not supposed to be honest. We are not supposed to cause a problem. We are supposed to suck it up and do what makes everyone else feel good. And I am here to tell you that doesn’t equal health and happiness. That is not a recipe for joy.

So what would it take for you to stop telling yourself you have to, should, must, ought to, promised to and all those other absolutes you are pummeling yourself with, and start saying yes to your heart, your body, and your mind? What would it take for you to have the courage to say I thought I wanted that, but now I want something different? Or to say, that was great for a season of my life but now I am in a new season? Or as Maya Angelou said, when I know better I do better? What would give you the guts to do better with being kind and honest to yourself and saying YES to what you really want?

I know it’s hard, but it’s oh-so worth it. Be true to you before you commit to anyone else. Keep your word to yourself about what is right for you and what you really want. We’ve heard it so many times and it’s so hard to really believe, but life really is short. And it’s way too short to live a life that you dread every day or that sucks the life out of you on a regular basis.

We are supposed to feel good every day. We are not supposed to be constantly exhausted, stressed out, and overworked only leaving the miserable, grumpy, tired, and depleted version of ourselves for our families to deal with at the end of every day. If you are feeling that way on a regular basis, something is wrong. I’ve been there. And I am so happy to be in a much more relaxed state these days. I’m sure my family is happy about that too! (wink)

If you are creating a ridiculous schedule where your life is so full of noise and very little peace, how can you ever even hear your body or mind when it’s screaming at you that you’ve had enough?

Listen to yourself. Love yourself and say YES to yourself. Remember that no one ever says on their death bed, “I wish I had worked more” but most wish they had followed their hearts.

You deserve it.

Joyfully yours,

 

 

 

 

 

 

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,