How’s your summer going so far?
I just flew home from New York last week and enjoyed a quiet 4th of July around the house and it feels like the right time to jump back into blogging.
You know that famous quote, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans?” Well, I feel like this year has been one wild roller-coaster of unpredictability for most of the people I know, from family to friends to clients, myself included. I think the unease with the current political climate has trickled into general unease everywhere else — things around us are changing faster than ever, and not always for the better.
Life is good, though and I have so much to be thankful for. When I did feel negativity creeping in due to a few setbacks over the last few months, I took a legit break for some much-needed reflection. In 16 years of blogging (and nearly 10 years in this space! What?!) I’ve never taken this long of a break and for those of you who sent me personal messages, I appreciate your kindness so much.
Here’s the thing — back in the day, especially in my 20s, when something knocked me down, I pushed through it to keep a routine and momentum. At 35, I know better. Instead of phoning in half-baked content and faking authenticity, I’d rather take time, think things through and come back with my best work.
I won’t half-ass a project when I’m working with clients and I won’t do it here. Life is too short to put things out that you don’t feel 100% awesome about.
So, here’s what happened — sit tight, this is going to be a long post!
THE MONTH (OR, AHEM, LAST FEW MONTHS)
1. A DREAM DELAYED
For the past two years, Joey and I have been prepping to buy a condo in Palm Springs to escape Portland winters. Back in April, we put in an offer on what seemed like the perfect place. Here’s a photo from the back yard, complete with a big, fat palm tree. Look at Rocky’s smile!
The process began fairly smoothly, but in the midst of the excitement, there were a few big red flags I should have noticed. We went with a local lender who knew the intricacies of the area well (many properties are on land leases). As the closing date crept up, I got an uneasy feeling that I couldn’t seem shake (always, ALWAYS trust your gut!) which felt weird since I’d wanted this for so long.
As we reviewed the final paperwork, I noticed some hidden charges. Then, there were demands for a larger down payment right before closing. I’ve bought before so I knew what to expect and this process was….way off. The lack of honesty made me question what else was hidden and after weighing the pros and cons for a few more days, we called it off. Within a few days though, the cloud of disappointment lifted and gave way to a sense of relief.
The reason I’m sharing this story is because sometimes, in a fit of excitement, we ignore the signs right in front of us. Whether it’s a relationship, freelance project or buying a house, if you’ve given the situation everything you’ve got and it still isn’t working, take a step back and re-evaluate it. Is the timing right? Does it align with your goals? And most importantly, does it feel right? Don’t force it — there should be a natural flow.
The good news: we learned a lot of valuable lessons are back to searching for a place to buy before the year is over. We’re now more clear on what to expect and there’s no rush because I know the right fit for us is out there.
2. GROWING PAINS
Right as our mortgage process was dragging on, I took on a big project that wasn’t an ideal fit (once again, always, always trust your gut.) Together, these two things were a perfect storm of stress.
Earlier this year, I had an inquiry from a potential client but after a short conversation, the project wasn’t quite right — plus we were booked out a few months. Then, a few months later, they followed up again and our project load had slowed down so we did a call and it went well. Things started out good but scope creep and tightened deadlines soon took over — and the proposal no longer resembled the project, which had nearly doubled in size. After one too many 3 am nights at the office and unmanageable expectations, we parted ways.
I deeply value my client relationships and as a business owner, it’s really important to me to deliver what’s promised so this was a situation I took really hard — and the main reason I needed a time out to regroup. A decade into being a designer and 400 projects down, I learned that there’s still a first time for everything. Bad things will happen. Learn from those mistakes, hold onto those lessons, move forward with grace and let go of any bad mojo.
95% of the time, projects run smoothly. But, the handful of times I’ve chosen to not listen to my gut, it hasn’t worked out.
As a reminder, value your unique talents, never, ever break your creative process (it’s there for a reason), be honest with expectations and set clear boundaries. To deliver the best possible outcome, you have to take care of yourself.
3. THE BREAK
After what felt like 2 months of nonstop stress, creative block and no time to blog (let alone sleep!), I took a time out and flew to New York to recharge. It was exactly what I needed.
I spent 5 solid days with Gala talking, laughing, eating, shopping, cleaning out 10 garbage bags of stuff from her apartment (organizing is my therapy, weirdly enough) and hanging out on The Wing rooftop eating scoops of Boys Beware ice cream (can you spot me?!)
Besides one work meeting (I have the best clients ever — they surprised me with a bag of fresh-baked cookies!) I focused on one simple goal: having fun. We took tons of goofy photo booth strips, walked through Times Square at midnight to shop at Forever 21, ordered multiple desserts just because, sipped on something called The Pink Drink and wore platform boots and big sunglasses everywhere.
Technically, I flew home even more exhausted than when I’d left for vacation (LOL), but also feeling more balanced, connected and focused than I had in a long time. I’m already planning another summer vacation for next month. Working hard is good but playing harder is better. 😉
4. FOCUSING ON THE GOOD
Now that summer is here, I want to make the most of it and focus on all the good things! Here’s my current happy list:
1. Chubs is almost 3 years old and thriving!
2. Joey just finished building our back yard tiki bar and it is AMAZING.
3. I paid off my last super ancient student loan. WOOHOO!
4. My designer Sam is a godsend — she comes up with the best creative solutions and always finds the coolest fonts.
5. Joey and I are having plenty of dates at Babydoll now that we know they have vegan pizza!
6. I just got a rubber plant at Portland Nursery.
7. Trader Joe’s just started selling the best smelling grapefruit-scented soy candles.
8. I helped Gala clean out her makeup and am enjoying experimenting with new colors and formulas from her cast-off pile. 😉
9. My favorite summer pastime is sipping homemade margaritas on our new deck as the sun sets.
10. I just discovered the coolest photo booth ever (appears to be from the 1950s?) at Dig A Pony.
11. Rocky is 10 and still has the energy of a puppy! Awwww.
12. I re-signed my office lease for another year.
13. August marks this blog’s 10 year anniversary!
I hope you guys are having a great summer and I appreciate you hanging out with me here, even after all these years.
I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to.
What’s new with you?
What are you super excited about?
Any summer vacation plans?
P.S. It’s been awhile since I’ve done a link round-up but there’s so much good stuff below! Enjoy!
• How is this year feeling for you? Alex has 10 questions for your mid-year reflection.
• My newest podcast obsession is Missing Richard Simmons. I’ve been so intrigued with his disappearance from public life 3 years ago and as Dan Taberski starts digging, the story gets weirder and weirder.
• Such a good, timely reminder: growth doesn’t always mean bigger, better, or faster.
• So funny…and so true. Don’t light my expensive candles. EVER. “When I go to a friend’s house and she casually has a Diptyque burning unchecked in the bathroom, I think, My God, I have fancy friends…because who has $65 to burn?”
• I love the How To Do Anything series of posts! Always so clever.
• I’ve always wondered about the origins of the popular 80s “Memphis” design aesthetic (think bold color combos and squiggly lines) and here’s the story behind it!
• The secret to small talk.
• You can now do job searches on Google.
• This George Michael print is the best thing ever.
• This is both fascinating and freaky: human engineered organisms.
• Accidental Wes Anderson locations made me laugh!
• If you’re going to be in San Francisco over the summer, check out the Summer Of Love Illuminate installation!
• I love Paul Jarvis’ simple, no bullshit advice so much: Do what you say you’re going to do!
• If you or someone you know are struggling with student loan debt, you’re not alone. Listen to this. And then to this.
• Here’s how to retain your sanity when you work alone.
• Not every creative outlet needs to turn a profit — just enjoy it!
• I loved this story about the squatters of the Lower East Side in the 1980s.
• When I want to understand both sides of a political issue in a level-headed way, I listen to Joshua Johnson’s 1A podcast.
• You know, sometimes you have those days where you chat with Paris Hilton, hang with Kanye, eat Kim Kardashian’s banana pudding and walk over to Drake’s house to play basketball. Totally normal.
• If you’re an art history buff, you’ll LOVE Alexey Kondakov’s series of people from classical paintings inserted into modern photos.