Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Living the Dream! Gratitude,Clarity and My “Normal” Life Begins Again.

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Well, I could not be happier to be home for a while from my crazy travel schedule. I love my job, but the trick is to make sure I love my life. And isn’t it funny how life has a way of reminding you that you are not as “fancy” as you think you are? I mean Monday I was partying with Martha Stewart and now, not so much.


Two days ago…my first day back in the office in so long I could hardly remember what it looked like, I had a tag-a-long 7 year old because before I could even get to work, her school called to tell me she was sick. Yep! One Dr’s appointment later, she has a virus and sore throat so home she’s been ever since. And THEN, I completely forgot an appointment with a client while I was caring for my little honey. LORDY! I can’t remember the last time that happened. Guess I will be kissing their “tushy” for a while because it was TOTALLY my fault. Ugh! How embarrassing!


And so is the “Dream” life of a working mom, right? It happens! But the interesting thing is that this is exactly the life I want. The life that allows me to enjoy and experience everything the glamorous worlds of design and travel have to offer paired with cuddling an achy child, smelling her Hello Kitty Strawberry Shampoo scented hair, and fighting off a 7 month old Shih Tzu who is eating our sock-clad feet as we watch a plethora of Nick Jr. TV shows until we all fall asleep in “mommy’s bed”. And even cleaning up the messes I make when I forget appointments or get behind with client work and having to make it up to clients who hopefully as mom’s themselves, will understand.


I am a lucky woman. I really do “have it all”. And yes sometimes it feels overwhelming. But mostly it feels amazing. And I wouldn’t trade any piece of my life…the good, the bad or the hectic, for anything else. I am clear on that. Yes, there it is.  CLARITY! Bam! I am CLEAR that I am living my Dream Life. I’m not waiting until someday to make that happen. I am living it NOW.


What about you? Are you living the dream? YOUR Dream? Are you even clear on what you want in life? Do you know whether you love the life you have or are you always thinking the grass is greener somewhere else? Or telling yourself…”one day”?


I think very few things are as important in life as Clarity. And as I work with other design clients, designers and creatives in both my design and consulting businesses, I find that clarity is scarce. Most people don’t know what they want. And they are listening to what other people want for them.

But wait…most people probably do know, but are afraid to say it. There it is…FEAR. That ugly little thing that keeps us from getting real clarity and having the courage to go after our dreams.


What are we afraid of? Fear of saying what we want out loud because someone may judge us, or worse yet, laugh and ridicule? Fear of saying what we want out loud because then we might actually have to work hard to make it come true? Fear that if we choose one thing or a few that we want, we might have made the wrong choice and we will have regret, so better to just do nothing about reaching our dreams instead.


Well I don’t think you need a reminder that Life is Short. So what will it take to make you reach for your dreams? Money? Time? Guts? All three? Probably all three, yes! But isn’t everything worth taking the chance? Nobody ever regretted going after their dreams, but many people regret not even trying to have the life they envision.


Just this week, I took a big leap towards my next set of dreams. You see, you can’t make it all happen alone. No one ever succeeded by themselves.  I have surrounded myself with amazing people who invest in my visionary thinking and support the actions it takes to make my dreams come true. It is astounding the kind of talent I have in my life and I just added one more.


So today, I am grateful for normal life (for better or worse), motherhood and nursing a sick little girl, the AMAZING and dedicated ladies of Team Tobi (Brooke, Ashley, Bebe, Stephanie and now Cheminne), and mostly for Clarity and for the guts to follow my dreams.


And yes, my “Normal” life ain’t so normal. But it’s amazing. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m not leaving anything on the table at the end of this life. I’m going for it all. Full board. No holds barred. It’s on!


Will you join me? What are you waiting for? Life is Short.

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Relax to Recharge Your Creativity

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Hello, again! It’s Ashley, here, and I’m bringing you Tobi’s reflections on the importance of vacations in our lives. And, today, we’re talking about creativity and how it really hinges on relaxation.

What this concept instantly calls to mind, for me, is the fact that every single time Tobi goes to her massage appointment with her health coach and trainer, Julianne (of whom she has spoken SO highly here on the blog), she comes back with a brand new list of priorities!

We joke about it, but what’s fundamentally different about what comes to her on the massage table is that these are her BIG ideas, the exciting and innovative ideas that have now become her vision for her business.

It just goes to show that, as Arianna Huffington and Peter Diamandis have pointed out, relaxation and time outside of your stress zone are KEY sources of fuel for your creativity.

And if–as an entrepreneur, a creative, a parent, or ANY role–you always stay in the stress zone, then you’re not able to fully access the part of your mind that brings you creative ideas or solutions.

So when you take time away for R&R, you tap into peace and openness that lets the really good stuff in. Admittedly, most of us can’t stay in that kind of creative, receptive state all the time. Life happens. We have to buy groceries. We have to keep track of our schedules and our families’ schedules. We have to pay the bills.

Tobi knows that. Life happens to her, too. All the time. And she has often said that the more success she sees in her business, the more crazy and harried her daily life becomes. And she wants to keep that success, so she just has to find a way to accept it as her normal–to actually enjoy it by staying in the present as much as possible–but find time to recharge her creativity through relaxation.

And, she says, if you’ll notice, the most high-powered businesspeople are not trying to get rid of stress. Stress is part of their lives because they are charging full-speed toward their goals every day. BUT! These are also the people who take a full month off each year OR who take one week off each month OR who take a one-year sabbatical every five years.

Here’s the key: they plan these recharge times into their very busy schedules, before all of the rest of life and work goes on the calendar. And then they protect them. Even if for right now you’re only able to take one vacation each year; protect it, plan for it, and envision building more relaxation time into your schedule in years to come. And don’t forget little self-care “vacations” too, like a weekly massage or daily meditation or whatever little one-hour mental and emotional free-time you’re into.

This understanding of where our creativity comes from is also changing the way Tobi designs and even changing her designs themselves! Her design inspiration these days is all about creating homes that are gorgeous, yes, but not for gorgeousness’ sake. She is envisioning fabulous interiors that create a supportive and nurturing environment for people to relax and to develop the disciplines of self-care: building those daily “vacations” into their lives.

Is your “big” vacation (or vacations!) on your calendar already? Have you planned the little recharge moments throughout your weeks and months that are going to keep your creativity and inspiration flowing?

Until tomorrow,


p.s. If you enjoyed the inspirational photos of relaxation destinations in this post, check out more of them on Tobi’s “Destinations” pinboard on Pinterest. Just click here! And for even more relaxation inspiration, see her “Zen” pinboard too!

Dreaming of Paris

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Several of my friends are in Paris for the Maison + Objet Interior Design Show as we speak.

So as I drink my coffee this morning if I close my eyes I can dream I’m there too, enjoying it with a chocolate croissant in a French Cafe.

Here are a few other dreamy images of Paris to help our imaginations.

Hoping I’ll be at Maison when it happens again in the Fall. Want to join me?

Happy Dreaming! xo,

p.s. Speaking of dreams, I’ll be bringing you a look at my Big Dreams for 2013 in the next few days. What are you dreaming of this year? I’d love to hear yours too.

Holiday Inspiration from DIFFA Dining By Design at Masin’s in Bellevue, Washington

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So yesterday I gave you a peek into my lobby re-design for Masin’s Furniture and Design for the Fall DIFFA Dining by Design Northeast Event.

Today I am bringing you a look at my table design for the DIFFA Event. Though this decor would work anytime of year, I think all the red could be great inspiration for your Holiday Tabletop.

Being that DIFFA stands for Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS, I thought it would be fun to incorporate the red ribbon that is symbolic of the fight against AIDS into my design.

With that in mind, I created centerpieces by filling clear cylinders with bolts of red ribbon and then filled an inner cylinder with white tulips.

Since there would not be actual guests dining at my table, I created a more symbolic concept that was meant to have a deeper meaning and reference to the fight against AIDS. Because AIDS affects everyone, my place cards were for “Mom”, “Dad”, “Brother”, “Sister”, “Me”, and “You” with a red grosgrain detail through each.

And instead of real menu cards since there was no real menu, I decided to include “Recipes for Life” with quotes on giving back and loving one another like “the purpose of life is a life of purpose” and “no one can do everything, but everyone can do something” and “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”.

And inside my favor boxes at each place, guess what I included? Nothing…that’s right, each box was empty but it represented an intangible–Life. This was to represent the “Gift of Life” and that by giving to DIFFA, lives can be saved and specifically in the Seattle area the lives of children affected by AIDS are being saved.  With the money raised at this and previous DIFFA Northeast events, children of AIDS victims who have very ill parents or no parents to give them food, clothing, and shelter have been cared for and their lives have truly been saved. So the gift of life is not just for those suffering from the disease, but the many children of those suffering that are the innocent victims of this horrible disease.  As a mom, that was probably the best part of this whole event for me.  I felt so happy knowing that through my work, children were being cared for and their lives being improved.

The event was such a success this year thanks to the many designers who created tablescapes and to Masin’s who hosted this event for the 8th year in a row.

And the gala party was fabulously fun and glamorous, probably why it was called “DIFFA Glam”.  Here’s a pic from the DIFFA Glam red carpet with Dave Masin (far left), and other supporters of this great even that include Kathryn Greeley, Mindy Lockard and John Stevens.

If you haven’t been to Masin’s Furniture and Design and you live in or near or will be visiting the Seattle/Bellevue areas, please stop in and say  “Hello” to the generous Masin family.  You might even find a great Christmas gift for yourself or a family member and supporting this third generation family-owned furniture and design business will help the Masin’s continue to support great causes like DIFFA for another year.

And if you are moved by this post, maybe you want to give a donation to DIFFA as a Christmas gift in honor of those in your life that you love that already have everything they could possibly need. They might just prefer you use your money to help others instead. It’s a great cause!

Happy Giving!! xo,