Category Archives: Inspiration

glass

Over the past few months, my mind has been filled with sailing metaphors. For the most part, I don’t really say these things out loud except sometimes to my husband who has no choice but to sit across from me at dinner and listen to my tales of “readying the ship,” “leaving the harbor,” and (inevitably) “mid-trip course correcting.”

However, since I’ve been home, another nautical metaphor would have been appropriate:

Becalm: transitive verb

1.  a) To keep motionless by lack of wind, b) to stop the progress of

2.  to make calm: soothe

This is how I feel every time I come back from a major deadline or milestone like Quilt Market.  You throw so much energy and passion into getting to your destination.  After the frenzy is over, you sit up and say, “Wait.  Where are we, again?”  The ship has stopped.  You look up and realize you are not docked next to some tropical paradise island (except for the one year I was really smart and immediately flew to Hawaii).  Instead, you are still somewhere in the middle of the ocean.  You have places to go, things to do.

So you start paddling – frantically.  The boat – it’s stopped!  You send out messages and call for help and check on the boat and paddle some more.  It’s sort of comical and sad all at once.  Except, then you read on.  Becalm.  Definition #2.  To make calm.  Soothe.

Oh.  Is that what we’re doing?  Soothing?  Calming?

The wind returns of its own accord.  You wake up one morning and find that you are, in fact, sailing.  You were this whole time.  There are new, exotic places on the horizon.  You smell the spices and fragrances of lands you have not visited before. How would you recognize this route if you have never been?

I felt the wind on my face again this morning and smiled.  It’s coming back.  We sail on!

Powder Room Make Over

Back in November, I mentioned that we were working on a home renovation project before my parents arrived for Thanksgiving. A few people have asked how that project turned out, so I feel it is probably time to confess. We are not finished!

Are you ready for a little progress report?

Powder-room-mood-board

The Project

Downstairs, we have a small powder room which we completely gutted almost as soon as we moved in.  I have some bad cell phone “before” pictures I will share when it’s time to do the full reveal, but to sum up, we started out with terracotta orange + lots of 80′s details.  The goal:

  • new floors - done!
  • new toilet - done!
  • paint and/or wallpaper - in progress
  • new vanity + faucets - decisions made, waiting to be installed
  • new light fixture – purchased, waiting to be installed
  • new mirror – TBD
  • new accessories (towel rack, toilet paper holder, etc.) - TBD

Before Thanksgiving, we managed to get the hardwood floors laid and the new toilet installed, and then our progress halted. The room has been mostly functional, but not terribly glamorous. We have to send our guests to the nearby kitchen or laundry room to wash their hands.

All told, this tiny room will take  us about 4 months to complete. I am oddly fine with that. We had some projects we had to tend to in between, plus the holidays and travel. Right now, we are only able to work on the house on weekends, and I think it is really important to enjoy a little down-time, too.

The Vision

So where are we headed?

I created a little mood board to show some of the design choices we have made. This room is really small and visible off of the main hallway in our house, so we wanted something bold on the walls. Our first preference might have been wallpaper, but our walls are very textured, and we knew that wallpaper would be a challenge. It might even require skim-coating the walls first, and if we’re going to go to all that trouble + expense, we want the wallpaper to be really important.

Instead, we are going with an accent wall of painted chevrons. We chalked + taped the pattern out yesterday, and so far, we’re pretty excited about it. We are trying out a new painting technique. We’ll let you know how it goes.

The mood board above is really just the silvery-gray backdrop of the room. Eventually, we will bring in some kind of accent color through artwork and accessories. We are leaning towards blues and greens, but we’ll see.

It’s fun to see it all coming together (even if it’s only virtually). All that shopping for accessories and fixtures can take a long time, but I think being happy with the end result is really what it’s all about.

What about you? Any re-decorating projects in the works?

Filed under House & Home, Inspiration. Tagged with , , , , , .

Being Happy At Home (The Year Ahead)

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When I left off last week, I was talking about reviewing 2012′s high points and starting to think about my goals for 2013. (I like to take this slow, remember?)

This year I gave myself a few weeks to think it over, and I decided to go at this process in a different way. So even if you’ve already written down some resolutions (or totally sworn off ever writing them), I think you may find this helpful.

Goal Setting: The Old Way

In the past, maybe you did it like me. I sat down pen-in-hand and wrote all of my career + business goals first. They were ambitious. I believe in writing down your aspirations as a way of helping to make them come true. So I piled on as many dreams as I could fit on the page — prioritized and scheduled and (mostly) sanity-checked. But I included some stretch goals, too.

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After that, I proceeded to set goals for the rest of my life. Goals for decorating, getting organized, spending time with my husband + family, getting in shape, etc. Unfortunately, my career goals were so ambitious that by the time I was ready to tackle my home, my spiritual life, myself, or my relationships — there was not very much time or energy left.

Hmmm. Well, I didn’t want to cross those things off the list.  That would be like saying they didn’t matter, right? So I just left them there — even though the list had grown totally unrealistic and impossible.  Next to the personal stuff, I wrote the words “bonus points” or worse yet “weekends.”

And How Did That Work Out?

Now, that I’ve looked back over my year, I can see that I got most of those business goals accomplished.  I even got some of the personal ones checked off the list, too.  But I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a lot of conflict (both internal + sometimes external) in the process.  If I am being honest, there were times I even felt burned out this year.  I’ve been going on some crazy personal journeys that required other people’s time, support, and commitment, too.  When not unchecked, this can be a recipe for guilt and worry.

The good news is that burn out helped me confront some unhealthy habits and forced me to learn some new skills — skills I hope to share with you.

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Goal Setting: My New Approach

So, this year, I am doing things differently: I am writing down those life goals first.

These are the things that I want for myself, for my family, for my home. They are not designed to be impressive or to look good on paper. They are just the things that at the end of the day, when I lay my head on my pillow, give me that heart-full-of-happiness feeling.  These are the things that fuel my creativity + keep me going. Yes, I am still setting career goals for 2013. There are exciting places I want to take Ever Kelly, but now I see those ambitions as supporting my ultimate aim — to be happy at home.

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A Few of My “Be Happy at Home” Goals for 2013

  • Work on organization + beauty in my home! Create a peaceful, happy place to be with my husband.
  • Entertain occasionally. Welcome other people in.
  • Cultivate new friendships here in Seattle.
  • Continue to take one day of rest each week as a personal and spiritual discipline.  (I plan to talk more about this soon. This one is a life changer!)
  • Great self-care + regular exercise.
  • Experience significance. Work on things that matter.
  • Celebrate the launch of my book with a special event + party. Decorate. Have fun.
  • Take a vacation. Just the 2 of us.

Looking over this list, I can see that these are all things that I plan to do anyway. However, I frequently put them last on my list and sometimes even feel like I have to apologize for them. (Does this happen to you too?) So this year, I am going to be working on embracing these practices not as “bonus point” or “weekend” activities — but as the foundation for everything else in my life.

I am also using this list as a way to evaluate new opportunities as they come up rather than trying to cram everything in whether it fits or not. Already, I feel much calmer + more excited about the things that I am working on.

What about you? Any big mental shifts you’d like to make this year? Do you think being “happy at home” matters — and if so, what does that mean to you?

 

Filed under Inspiration, Organization. Tagged with , , , , .

Small Business Rules I Learned from Santa

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Growing up, it was always my dream to visit the North Pole. It wasn’t until later in life that I realized my reasoning was a little bit different than that of my friends. Forget the toys. I wanted to go to the North Pole to apply for a job.

It sounded perfect.

“A creative work environment. Hot chocolate served year round in the employee lounge. A nice boss. Cool uniforms. And we were going to make things!”

Even at the mall, I was always more interested in what Santa’s helpers were doing than the big guy himself. After all, they had my dream job.

Although I never got my internship at the North Pole, I have realized that he still managed to teach me a lot. So, I bring to you the ever kelly top 8: Small Business Rules I Learned from Santa.

#1 Have a compelling mission statement that others will rally behind.

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Santa’s sleigh breaks down. The reindeer are out of pixie dust. One toy gets left behind. It’s the central plot of nearly every Santa story ever told.

And no matter what the problem, Santa never has to convince anyone that he has a noble cause. Just think of those poor little girls and boys who will wake up with an empty stocking!

The same can be true in business. If you have a mission that others naturally want to support, you can feel good about spreading the word knowing you’re doing something you (and others) can believe in.

#2 Keep a “naughty” and “nice” list.  Work with the “nice.”

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You can’t always choose, but when you can, it really does make all the difference.

#3 Take regular vacations.

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You know Santa took this job just so he could have summers off, right?

#4 Delegate.

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Everyone needs elves. Even Santa. And he’s magic.

#5 Have a sense of humor.

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When you feel stressed out, overwhelmed, or unsure, it may be time for a laugh. I once read that while it’s good to be serious about your work, you should not be too serious about yourself. Laughter breaks down walls and helps you get moving again.

Why do you think Santa laughs so much?

#6 Cultivate supportive relationships.

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We all need a Mrs. Claus in our lives — someone to bake us cookies and cheer us on. Matching outfits totally optional.

#7 Listen to your customers.

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Is there anyone better at this than Santa? Reading all of those letters. Getting out into the public. Asking those children one-on-one what they’d like for Christmas. He could teach our social media gurus a thing or two about listening.

And finally…

#8 Tell a story with your brand.

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Seth Godin says it best, “If what you’re doing matters, really matters, then I hope you’ll take the time to tell a story. A story that resonates and a story that can become true.”

You’re never too old to believe. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

What about you? Any rules you’d like to add to this list?

Filed under Holidays, Inspiration, Site News. Tagged with , , , , , .

The Book of Stillmeadow

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After supper last night I went out under the apple trees to look at the moon. It was one of those hours I have when the world is so lovely I can hardly bear it. All the rich and beautiful things there are come home to my heart at once.” – Gladys Taber

Fall is really showing up now. Every day I look out the window and see another branch that has been partially dipped in gold paint. This year, I notice that the changes in color do not happen all at once, but in patches. I see leaves that are half-orange and half-green as if they can’t quite make up their mind. Entire trees are fractured right down the center – one side butter yellow, the other summer’s green.

It is still so hot out, but somehow autumn knows to change the color of the leaves anyway.

I’ve been going to the library and grabbing great arm fulls of books. I grew stagnant this summer, and realized I was not taking in nearly enough inspiration to keep the well primed. Now, I’m making it a regular habit to have a big stack to choose from. When my hand is cramping from drawing, I take a break and read a page or five, and then find I can go on with my day. It feels healthier than taking an internet break, even though both can sneak minutes out of my pocket – more than I care to count.

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In the library, in addition to some books on not procrastinating, I checked out The Book Of Stillmeadow by Gladys Taber. Do you know her? Susan Branch has a great write-up about Gladys Taber here which is where I learned about her, too.

I spent the better part of the weekend completely immersed in her life on a Connecticut farm in the 1930′s and 40′s. In some ways, I think she is the godmother of all bloggers – writing about cooking and gardening and puppies and the weather in a way which I cannot describe. All I know is that I find myself alternately tearing up and laughing and trying to read sections aloud to my husband.

“She’s writing about painting Adirondack chairs, now. You really should hear this part!”

He is about as thrilled with this as you would expect.

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I think, in the end, it is the quality of her writing that catches me by surprise and wakes me up. She writes with such precision and beauty about canning green beans or hanging the laundry out to dry. Not that these chores go smoothly all the time. She has a dry wit and tells the truth.

But even when she is being funny or facetious, she seems to be saying that these things are very important. Taking care of our homes and the creatures in them – these things are worth our very best thoughts, our very best words.

I know many of us struggle with significance and comparisons.  It is good to be reminded that our every day routines are important and can be done with great love. Not just in a sacrificial, begrudging sort of way, but keenly aware that there are hidden happinesses there for us, too.

As Gladys says, “The real things go on.”

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Anyway, I’ll stop here now. I could go on like this all day.

I know some of you may be giving me the same look my husband did. That’s ok. Sometimes, chores are just plain hard – especially when the days are so full. I think most of us are behind on something. And I’ve never canned a green bean in my life, so what do I know anyway?

But if you’ve read the Stillmeadow books and loved them, tell me! Do you have a favorite? Does this sound like something you might fall for, too?

Filed under House & Home, Inspiration. Tagged with , , , .

Becalmed

glass

Over the past few months, my mind has been filled with sailing metaphors. For the most part, I don’t really say these things out loud except sometimes to my husband who has no choice but to sit across from me at dinner and listen to my tales of “readying the ship,” “leaving the harbor,” and (inevitably) “mid-trip course correcting.”

However, since I’ve been home, another nautical metaphor would have been appropriate:

Becalm: transitive verb

1.  a) To keep motionless by lack of wind, b) to stop the progress of

2.  to make calm: soothe

This is how I feel every time I come back from a major deadline or milestone like Quilt Market.  You throw so much energy and passion into getting to your destination.  After the frenzy is over, you sit up and say, “Wait.  Where are we, again?”  The ship has stopped.  You look up and realize you are not docked next to some tropical paradise island (except for the one year I was really smart and immediately flew to Hawaii).  Instead, you are still somewhere in the middle of the ocean.  You have places to go, things to do.

So you start paddling – frantically.  The boat – it’s stopped!  You send out messages and call for help and check on the boat and paddle some more.  It’s sort of comical and sad all at once.  Except, then you read on.  Becalm.  Definition #2.  To make calm.  Soothe.

Oh.  Is that what we’re doing?  Soothing?  Calming?

The wind returns of its own accord.  You wake up one morning and find that you are, in fact, sailing.  You were this whole time.  There are new, exotic places on the horizon.  You smell the spices and fragrances of lands you have not visited before. How would you recognize this route if you have never been?

I felt the wind on my face again this morning and smiled.  It’s coming back.  We sail on!

Filed under Inspiration. Tagged with , .