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Finding Calm and Inspiration
As many of you know the building and housing industry is going crazy right now. And by crazy I don’t just mean super busy. It is crazy on so many levels. There is lack of product, extremely high prices for basic product like lumber, long wait times to get product, 22 weeks for impact windows, and houses that aren’t on the market for more than a minute. New construction is sold before the footers are even dug and the price to build the house will now double before completion if we keep at the same rate. So what does all of this mean to the design industry? It means having to be constantly thinking on your feet. Having difficult conversations and needing really good connections in the industry. It also means that you have to pace yourself or you will get burnt out, fast! If you are a new designer and haven’t lived through this kind of growth and insanity you are probably eating it up and thinking this is the way it is always going to be. I remember when I first got into design and we were in this type of market. It was great to ride the ride. Although when it came to implementing things not just putting the design together reality set in. That lack of product and long wait times made for unhappy clients. Finding labor to do the job at the price bid became next to impossible and stress became a daily event. It was in those times that I realized how important it was to have really good vendors and contractors. That building those relationships would be key to being successful in the industry. It also taught me that I needed to take care of my mindset and to continuously find way to be inspired.
I have always been a sunrise person. I love watching the sun come up and bring a new day. I think it goes back to growing up on the water and loving to see it send shimmers. As a child I would sit on the dock with my feet in the water and just listen to all of the sounds of nature. As I got older I would take trips with my aunt and uncle hiking in the mountains. The trip I will always remember was to Arcadia and the mornings watching the sunrise from the mountain over the ocean. For me these morning sunrises have always been my reset. Whether it has been stress for work, family, children, divorce, or just finding myself the sunrise has been the perfect morning meditation time. I wish that I could say that I find the time everyday to watch the sunrise and have my morning coffee and meditate but that would not be life. What is life is finding time to go away, reset and take breaks from the daily grind. This week I have taken off to Destin. This has been a great trip for the kids to be kids. Swimming, fishing and just exploring new things. But it has also allowed me to have my morning time walking the beach, watching the sunrise and putting life into perspective. Taking time to set goals for where I want to be in all aspects of my life.
Each morning I enjoy the sunrise with a cup of coffee and then walk the beautiful beach. Some days my mind is going a million miles and I find myself walking super fast others my mind is clear and it is a slow introspective walk. Other days it is stopping along the way to talk to the other early risers who are walking the beach or fishing. It is finding new shells and seeing the colors bounce off the water. It is saying hello to the birds and being greeted back.
It is watching the power of the surf and realizing how small we are in comparison. The beautiful rocks that jut out into the ocean with no agenda just to be and stand firm. The rocks that are worn away over time by the surf and yet come out even more magnificent with each wave that hits them.
So when life is crazy and everything seems stressful it might really mean taking a step back and refocusing. Remembering what you love and what inspires you. For me, I see new color combinations in each and every sunrise. I see building designs in the sand and rocks. I see new paintings ready to be created from the shell and wave designs. I see new directions that I want to take my business and life. I see goals forming and creating. I see inspiration in each and every sunrise.
Where will you find your inspiration? How do you find your calm? Share with my your morning or evening rituals to bring you focus and direction.
Continuing to Reconnect
I talked about how recently I have been reconnecting with myself. Who I am as a designer. Who I am as a Mom. Who I am as an artist. Who I am as a business owner. And who I am as a person. When you have spent years being everything for everyone else this can be hard to truly acknowledge what it is you want and need. It has been great connecting with other Mom’s and hearing their stories about mom life. And a huge shout out to Mom Life USA, I can’t wait for the t-shirts to show up! Thank you for asking me to be a part of your community and I look forward to rocking some super cool clothes!
The one theme that I have heard from all of the Mom’s that I have been talking to is the huge amount of guilt that we share when we aren’t doing something. That if we have five minutes that aren’t scheduled we should be doing something for the kids, cleaning dishes, vacuuming the house, strategizing how to grow our businesses, meal prep and planning or doing laundry. Sound familiar? This past week taking time for just me felt weird. I missed my kids terribly but I also found a person that had been long gone. I had moments where I did nothing. Yup absolutely nothing. But the big thing I did was take in all that was around me. I enjoyed going through art galleries. The Susan Swartz gallery was amazing. She has had her work all over the world including in international embassies. It inspired me to continue with different techniques in my painting.
Although I studied painting in college I focused more on design, printmaking and sculpture so I know many techniques but had not practiced many. The time away and my explorations drove me to experiment with impasto techniques. Many people know this style of painting from Van Gogh. But this style was used back in the time of Titian and Rubens. The translation simply means to apply thick paint. Often the paint is applied with a palette knife and as modern art became more and more popular the impasto technique became a requirement in the painting community. Modern art took on the idea that the brush strokes and texture created in the medium could and did convey feeling and the artists response to a subject. So for me creating pieces in the impasto style was about connecting more and more to myself. The energy and excitement that came from tapping into who I am as an artist had me create three new pieces since my return.
Working an impasto style painting is invigorating and therapeutic. Working with the thick paint felt like I was creating a sculpture on canvas. Each layer upon layer was like laying down part of my soul, connecting with the medium and the colors. I got such an understanding of why the modernist painters felt that one had to use the impasto technique to truly connect with their work. The ability to manipulate the light and depth through the technique is fantastic. The paintings feel like living breathing works. I believe I will continue with this impasto series and continue to explore how emotions and part of me mix with each piece. One thing I have learned, although I am putting part of me onto every canvas I actually feel more whole than every before. The connection I am finding in painting again is connecting myself to who I am in all parts of my life.
If any of my pieces connect with you they can be purchased on on Etsy site. Yup I re-activated the Etsy site I started back in 2012. Who knows you might start to see some of my handmade jewelry come back onto the site. Making necklaces for the strawberry festival got me itching to make some more pieces. etsy.com/shop/artfulconceptionsllc
I have to admit I have a really hard time talking about an being vulnerable. So this blog post is hard to write and yet there is part of me that is driven to write it for accountability and to let others out there know that they aren’t alone. Designing for better health has to start at home.
As a mom of three and business owner anxiety is a regular emotion. And the act of self care and taking mom time can be guilt ridden as there is always that feeling in the back of my mind that I should be doing something else, that there is something else more important than me. Any other moms, parents, business owners out there that feel this way?
At one point in my life I let myself give so much of me that I was constantly living in a Lupus flare and missing out on so much of the wonderful things in life. Part of designing and tapping into the creative process is putting part of yourself into each design. When you aren’t adding back to you the process is exhausting. Add in parenting and trying to be the perfect wife and I was living looking forward to the vacations that I would schedule to have a week where I could shut things off with the high hopes that the vacation would be perfect. And I am sure you would know what happens when things need to be perfect, they rarely are and the unrealized expectations just make the situation worse. The anxiety would rise. I needed to find a way to believe that what I wanted and needed was just as important as what everyone else needed and that if I kept giving all of me to everyone else there wouldn’t be anything left of me.
Over the past year and a half I have been consciously working on taking care of myself. Setting boundaries. Taking time for friends, going hiking, painting and my favorite thing skiing. I realized that I can’t keep working 60+ hours a week. The high altitude of the ski mountains is amazing for my lupus. It may be getting out of the humidity in Florida or the peaceful settings and adjustment of oxygen levels. People talk about altitude sickness, I feel the best at higher altitudes like my body is brand new and the lupus doesn’t exist. So for me self care is not just taking care of mind and body but also finding ways to make sure I keep my lupus in check.
These views bring such peace to my soul. I have to say there was definitely some serious mom guilt going on, that this week I am out exploring a new place and skiing without the kids. And they definitely let me know that they wished that they could be with me. There was so much guilt about going by myself. Everything from did I really want to be states away from my kids, what if something happened? Did I really need to spend the money on myself? Am I taking away from something I should be doing for my kids or my clients? But in the end I realized that I can’t keep running on empty. That I needed to be inspired to bring new ideas back to my clients. That I needed time to myself where I am not worrying about everything going on with the kids. And even bigger that I made a commitment to myself to keep healing me so that I can recognize the anxiety, fear and pain that came with the past and move forward. To not live in it, to acknowledge and release it. This can be scary and so satisfying when accomplished.
Today I had a huge moment. I am rarely ever nervous about heights. I was a gymnast, I was the kid that would walk on top of monkey bars. I walked construction sites on the top floors while pregnant with no stairs/railing, solely going up ladders in heals. Roller coasters and amusement rides, all things I love to do. So today when I got to the top of the mountain there was a panic that set in out of nowhere. Yes it was high, over 9,500 ft but I had been higher. It was a new run for me and for the first time this week I had a realization that I was out here alone. But it wasn’t a sad alone it was a connection to me. It was a heightened sense of being that I was super aware of everything around me. The view was amazing.
The signage on the lift going up says no easy way down. And there was no easy way down but there was an exhilarating way down. The sense of accomplishment to overcome the nervousness, to have faith in my abilities and to trust that I was capable. A little over a year ago I had never taken a run down a mountain by myself, even though I have been skiing since I was 8 years old. Today I am on a week trip skiing by myself and not stopping myself from going to the very top of the mountain. I am putting myself out there swallowing the fear of not being perfect and just being me. Realizing that it is ok to say that I don’t know everything, that I do need breaks and that self care is just as important as the care I give everyone else.
So here I am, about to turn 41. Letting go of the voices that tell me I’m not good enough. Looking to a future that doesn’t let others dictate how I see myself. Setting an keeping boundaries that respect me. And learning how to celebrate each and every moment, even those where I am not perfect.
So join me in celebrating all the parents and business owners that are finally taking care of themselves. Give them a smile, a like, a nod to the fact that you know they are trying as hard as they can. Find a way to look for positive intent and be the helping hand they are too afraid to ask for. And if you have found a way to overcome your anxiety and guilt I want to hear about it!
It has been awhile since I have posted and while there are many excuses the biggest answer has been major changes that have gone on in the world and in my life. As the world is starting to get back to what will be our new normal I am still searching to figure out how to return to or create what I want as my normal. I have spent the quarantine time learning new skills, reconnecting to myself and remembering who I was before quarantine, before marriage and who I am after divorce. I have picked back up the painting that I used to do before I got married and had two more kids. I have realized how much I missed painting late into the night. I missed how my oldest son, then a small child, would have his drafting table next to mine and we would draw and paint. Recently I have been able to do that again with him, now an adult finding his own creative self.
Here are some of my recent paintings.
I have found that where I used to paint more realistic pieces I am loving working on more abstract pieces. I am finding myself pour parts of me into the work while also finding so much of me that I didn’t realize was lost. I have realized how much I let go of myself and my vision and direction to be the perfect wife, mother and business owner. I thought that I had to be everything to everyone and that all anyone wanted was someone who could handle everything and be perfect. But reality is life is messy and the more that we give of ourselves to everyone else the less we have for ourselves. I realized that my vision was so much more about what I wanted to achieve so that I could give more to the people in my life. I realized the people that should be in my life would never want me to give up those parts of me. That asking me to give up those parts was not love, it was control, fear and hurt. And this is not about blame because I willingly gave up those parts because it was what I thought you did when you loved someone. I thought you sacrificed yourself to create a new life. Reality, giving that up was the start to the end because it makes everyone unhappy and resentments happen on all sides. When we forget what really moves our soul and where our passion comes from to make someone else happy we hurt ourselves.
Here are some of the works I used to do before, when I would go from creating interior designs during the day to painting at night.
So in this search for who I am and what truly makes me excited and fuels my soul I realized these things. I love being a mother and I am a much better mother without having to be perfect. That it is ok to be open and honest and allow my feelings to be present. That I am a better mother when I am not following a rule book that bedtime doesn’t have to be set all the time. That sometimes chores can wait because snuggles and family time are so much more important. That creating a safe space where my kids can always share their feelings is more important than being an authority figure.
I have found how much I missed traveling. That new places and experiences are something that my soul needs. That to be inspired in design and art that I need new experiences and new places. That we cannot create in a vacuum, the there has to be inspiration and collaboration. Before my life completely changed I had been working on a plan to travel once a month to new locations to get inspired, see new things and bring back new design styles and how I want to incorporated them into what I do. My soul had been begging for me to remember who I am and what I needed. To write about what I found and what inspired me.
It is time for me to start acting on that and not continuing to hold back and wait for things to settle down. I have learned that there is always going to be drama and that if I keep putting my life on hold until the drama ends my life will have passed me by with no one hurt but myself. That the more I play into the drama the more there is still control over me and it keeps me from being the best person that I can be. So I am working on letting go. I am letting others have their judgements and opinions that really have nothing to do with me and everything to do with themselves. So instead of looking at things as being forced to give up my kids every other weekend I am going to look at that time as potential trips to find inspiration. It doesn’t mean that I won’t miss my kids, I miss them the minute they walk out the door to go to school or friends houses or activities, but I am not going to let that stop me any longer from finding ways to enjoy the time, finding ways to be whole so that I can be even more for them.
So today I am writing this from Utah. A place I have never been before. I am going to go out and see the sights, check out places that the amazing locals I met last night advised I check out and see where the wind blows. I am letting go of having to have everything planned and lined up and seeing what it is like to just let inspiration and creativity drive me. It’s ok to not be perfect, it’s ok to still be working on your vision, and it’s ok to start over.