career

looking back before i look forward

Around this time every year, before I start planning and goaling up 2016, I find it really helpful to reflect on the last year.  I look at the accomplishments.  The people, places, and projects that made the year anything but ordinary. I try to learn from the mistakes and struggles so I can be stronger and better the next time around the sun.

Looking back on 2015, the best moments were ones where I felt in Awe.  Like being in the presence of beautiful architecture.  A pop of dramatic color.  Being inspired by plants, animals, and nature.  Going above and beyond what I thought was possible of myself.  All of these moments are what pushes me to my full potential.

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Last year, my mantra for the year was to simplify.  Did I succeed? In some ways, I can definitely say I did.  But I have a long way to go.  I’m a complex person, so simplifying doesn’t come as an easy task. I’ve realized this goal is a lifelong one – cherishing what you have, refining what you want, and focusing on what you need.

My biggest career accomplishment was completing my NCIDQ certification.  After a conquering one final 4 month study binge and 8 hours of testing, I now can be a registered or licensed Interior Designer.  It was something I put on my career bucket list nearly 10 years ago, and it feels so good to cross it off.

Despite all of the awesomeness, 2015 wasn’t my favorite year.  I’m extremely blessed in so many aspects of this life, so it’s no big deal, just there were a lot of personal trials I’ve had to face. Relearning who you are and what you want is not easy.  Especially when you are so sure of yourself practically your whole child and adult life.  It’s like you wake up one day and everything is no longer black or white.  There’s a whole lot of grey.  Way over 50 shades.  More like 500.  (Any designer will agree!) And it’s hard to navigate your way. But the best advice I can give anybody is to stay true to yourself.  The rest will work itself out.

How was your 2015?  Great or just meh?  What was your self-discovery or favorite moment of the year?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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some of the best career advice I’ve heard…. from that guy next to me on the plane

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As interesting as it is to people-watch at airports, striking up a convo with that stranger next to you can really be eye-opening.   Over the years I’ve met people from all walks of life.  Some of the most memorable have been a pro surfer, a woman who started a non profit to save animals, a childhood friend of Brett Favre, and now, Pat Williams, who taught me some pretty important life lessons that day.

We were boarding the flight back from our Miami trip when Pat sat next to me.  He was probably in his late 50’s/early 60’s, with a large hat on and a friendly face.   I said hi to him, then immediately warned him of my fear of flying.  I reassured him that I wouldn’t throw up or anything, but he may notice claw marks on my husband’s arm.  He asked what scares me, and I told him how I can’t wrap my mind around how something can go up in the air 30,000ft and land exactly where it’s supposed to.  My fear of flying (like everything else it seems!) has been getting worse with age, and I haven’t been able to kick the thoughts of OH SHIT THIS PLANE IS GOING DOWN every time we take off.

Pat is one of those people who are upbeat and instantly inspiring, and told me he had a severe health problem and used his faith to get through it.  He had me interested, so I asked what happened to him, if he didn’t mind sharing.  Turns out, he had a liver transplant a few years ago because of cirrhosis of the liver, but never was a heavy drinker!  (Did you know that approximately 15% of those who have liver cirrhosis get it without cause?)  He described what it was like to be on that waiting list for an organ for years, not knowing if the disease would take his life before he’d have his shot at a transplant.   I apologized to him for going through something so difficult.  He just said, “Hey I’m glad it happened.  It made me a better person than I was before. And for that I’m thankful.”

As we talked more,  I learned of his previous background in building materials and sales.  I brought up something to him I don’t always talk about in my career, something I struggle with.  I love interior design, but I also fight a internal conflict with it from time to time, finding it hard to personally justify all of the overly expensive things I put into client’s homes.  For instance, if some pillows are like $2000,  I think, Wow we could have fed like how many children in Africa with this money!?  If you know me at all, you know I have a huge problem with letting things go to waste or blowing money on stupid shit, so it can make me feel guilty sometimes.

Pat’s response was that these people come to me because they want advice on how to spend their money, and it’s my job to guide them through the process.  It doesn’t make me a bad person because I’m selecting a $50K appliance package for their home.  He encouraged me to find a way to give back, whether it’s some extra money I make on a job to a charity, my time volunteering, or share resources I have with others.

We talked about all kinds of things and it made the flight go by super quick.  We said our goodbyes and I really felt like meeting him was a powerful and inspiring experience for my life and career.

These were main take-aways from our convo.  It’s such valuable advice for a young designer like myself, but really could be helpful to almost anyone in creative or sales positions:

  • Remember: You are the best thing that ever happened to your client.  You are an expert in your field, so if I client comes to you for expertise it’s because they believe in you.

  • Stand behind your work, and never apologize for the work you do.  (Unless you screw something up, then apologize.)

  • Don’t do business with anyone you don’t like.  You will almost always lose money.  And if you don’t lose money, you’ll lose time.  It’s okay to fire a client if things are not working out.

Glad I could share some of this insight with you! Enjoy the weekend ahead!

I’ll be back on a plane in less than 24 hours, heading back up to the Mitten…. who knows who I’ll meet!  Have you ever met anyone interesting while traveling?  Or has someone you barely knew been able to provide you with helpful advice? 

NCIDQ exam + life updates

Nobody puts baby in the corner.  Unless the baby is your blog.  And you have a massive test to pass that takes over 2.5 months of your life.

dream office

Good news is that it’s all looking up from here! I took my NCIDQ Practicum test a week ago Saturday.  It’s the last section in a series of 3 that I have to conquer to become a Registered Interior Designer.  I’m just so excited to have it behind me, go back to normal life, and get back to some blogging!

The week leading up to it, my mood was consistently somewhere between frazzled hot mess and a snapping turtle.  It can be so difficult to balance work and life alone, then throw 2-3 hour daily study sessions into the mix and it was enough to make me feel insane.  (It makes me really wonder how all those Moms out there do it!?  Major props to them!)  I even was dreaming in test mode.  Not to mention, feeling extremely nervous.  You practice drafting techniques and memorize those codes until you can (literally) recite them in your sleep, but you still don’t know what scenario you will get on test day.

ADA Bathroom

I’ve found in any situation that is scary and unknown, the best thing you can do is just tell yourself “you got this”.  Believe in all of the work you have put in and be confident you are ready to take on anything.  Setting yourself up for success is also helpful!  I Googled “brain foods” and “what to eat before a test” because I feel like I needed every ounce of brainpower working with me on test day.

I woke up that Saturday at 5:45am. I got to the test site about 45 minutes early.  For someone who is habitually late I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to get there and get comfortable.  We tested for 4 hours, had a 1 hour break, and resumed testing for 4 more.  In the last couple hours I had a headache and felt like poo, but as you’re racing against the clock you just have to keep going.  I finished with about 5 minutes to spare, just long enough to review a previous exercise.

Leaving there, I felt a sense of overwhelming relief mixed with exhaustion.  It was done and over.  I felt positive about it and accomplished.  It went about as good as it could have!  YES. Now it’s time to get some Chinese take out and call it a day.

Later that night and the days following was what I like to call the “oh sh*t!” phase.  Oh sh*t did I label that correctly? Oh sh*t did I remember to dimension everything? Oh sh*t did I make that counter the correct height and long enough?  Oh sh*t?!  These thoughts would enter my head randomly – like during the workday or in the middle of the night.  Then I would panic, try to remember back, then either breathe a sigh of relief or ultimately just try to forget it since what’s done is already done.

I think you just want to succeed so much that your subconscious keeps all these thoughts right there in the back of your mind.   It’s like your brain tries to come up with reasons why you passed or failed so you can have clarity on your outcome, instead of feeling like you’re stuck in limbo waiting for your results.  I tend to over-analyze everything, but since I wont find out the results for 2-3 months, I’ve accepted that I need to let it go. So that’s where I’m at… just hoping for the best over here!! 🙂

Guadalupe River - New Braunfels

The last few months have been a blur with how busy things have been.  It being April already is unreal, but I’m excited to see what this month brings.  I feel like it is almost like a new year for me again.  I’ve started to set some more career and personal goals.  The wildflowers are in bloom and we went river tubing for the first time this year!

Tracery Book

In other exciting news, I found out over the weekend that I won Tracery‘s giveaway, so I get a copy of their new book! So super excited to get my hands on this pretty little treasure.   You should all get a copy too! I’m sure it will be fabulous!

xo.

(images link back to their source)

feeling like i’m back in design school

Lately my life has been taken over by this little thing called the NCIDQ interior design exam.  AKA my licensing exam.  AKA what I have labeled as my career defining test.  For the latest couple of months, I’ve been studying in the evenings after work, and I tell ya what, these drawing exercises have definitely been putting a cramp on my weekends.

Maybe you remember in the blog’s earlier days me mentioning that I passed the first two sections of this test.  Yes, it was awesome – but, moving on – I still have the other 8 hours to pass. This time it’s the hand drafting portion of the test. And honestly, this FREAKS ME THE F OUT.

floorplan sketch

Let’s be serious here: it’s the first time since college I’ve picked up a drafting board, templates, and triangles.  So… 7 years?! (Wow, I feel like a dinosaur.)  My house currently looks like a studio bomb went off.  Tracing paper on the floors.  Study guides on the chair.  Books haphazardly thrown about.  Drafting dots on the dining table.  Laptop with about 27 tabs open, with crucial info that I CANNOT FORGET or else I will never forgive myself.

I’ve always been a pretty good test taker, but by that I mean I am a pro at cramming info in my head and regurgitating it correctly on exam day.  This test is different – it’s a series of 7 drawing exercises.  There’s no way to cram –  it’s all about understanding, being a quick problem solver, and having legit skills.  When I started this whole process I was so rusty at hand drafting it’s not even funny.  Despite all of these uneasy feelings, I officially registered myself for the test last month on the day before the deadline. (Commitment issues?  Maybe.  But I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t wait to the wee hours.)

Anyways, I take the test 9 days from today, next Saturday.  Excuse my absence from the blog as I get through home stretch.  If anybody has any strategies, thoughts, or good luck charms they want to pass on I will love you forever. xo. Okay, rant over.  Hope you are having a great week!

my journey as told through 2 fabric books

It’s Monday. I usually don’t post on Mondays, but I kind of have a story to tell this time.  So here goes….

Over the weekend, I was cleaning out my office and decided it was time to purge.  As you may know, parting with anything sentimental is not an easy task for me. I came across a couple of artifacts that have made it all the way from FL, back to MI, again to FL, and now to TX.  2 beautiful fabric books that I kept from my first design job ever.

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It’s like it was just yesterday. I was 22 and interning for Kim Ederer. She actually believed me when I said I would move to Florida for 12 weeks in the summer to intern. She gave me a chance, and I was so excited. I found a studio to rent in Inlet Beach for that summer in 2007. I remember just how excited I was to go to work everyday. I was like a design sponge – soaking up all the beautiful fabrics and furniture, learning as much as I could about the process. I was blown away by just how much more fast paced it was in comparison to my classes.  And just how poised Kim and Rosanne were as they tackled everything from a freight damaged table to a client presentation. I never wanted my internship to end, and I only hoped I could grow up and be successful like them.

That summer they moved offices, so taking on an intern to clean out and reorganize that massive fabric library was a huge selling point.  As I sifted through hundreds of fabric books, I came across 2 duplicate books. They were absolutely gorgeous. Instead of throwing them away, I kept them. I just thought the patterns and colors were so beautiful. So when my internship ended, I took them back up to Michigan with me.  I showed my design friends my treasured books and told them all about my Florida adventures.

That next summer after graduation, I moved to Florida.  The books came with me.  Finding a design job was not easy. It was 2008 and the recession had just hit. I had $1000 and an air mattress to my name, but more importantly, a will to be successful. I worked in an art gallery, as a waitress, and for a lawyer that year.  From time to time I’d crack open those fabric books and keep the dream alive of landing a job in the interior design field. A year later in 2009, I went into Pizitz Home & Cottage with my resume. They weren’t hiring, but they said they’d keep it on file. About a month later I got a phone call saying they could use some extra help for the summer. I was elated. I put in my 2 weeks notice at the immigration law office and I was on my way.

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Working for Pizitz blew me away. I was surrounded by beautiful things, friendly people, and a gorgeous backdrop for over 2 years. I’d eat my lunches overlooking the ocean.  Seaside was just so perfect and amazing.  It was really too good to be true, although looking back I think I was too young to realize it.  In September of 2011, Nate received a job offer in San Antonio he couldn’t refuse.  We were young, newlywed, and ready for the world.  I was the driving force behind it all.  The economy was so good in Texas, and I figured I could get some great design experience. I envisioned what city life would look like, and it was enticing.  We quickly said goodbye to the beach, packed up our townhouse, and headed to the Lone Star State. It was exciting and scary as hell.

The economy was as good as I imagined.  I found a job within 3 weeks at a crazy busy design firm in San Antonio. I didn’t feel completely settled yet, but I was ready to jump in.  The vibes were different from the beach though. I traded in my flip-flops for black pumps, and my jeans for dress pants.  Although I was stressed out 24/7, I tried to keep a laid back attitude.  It was hard for me when that outlook wasn’t accepted or understood. I remember the designer I worked for literally saying to me, “Aren’t you freaking out??”. Umm yes, I was inside. Being miserable was the norm around there, so if you were happy it must mean you weren’t working hard enough.  I felt like I couldn’t be me. I felt like I couldn’t celebrate design or have a life. I felt like a robot, cranking out work with no emotion. Finally I couldn’t take it anymore. It wasn’t rocket science.  It was interior design.  After 2 years of that crap, I took my life back, realizing I never would want to climb up that company ladder.

Instantly, a huge weight had been lifted. My job search efforts led me to 2 offers.  I decided to take the more unconventional one, working from home and in Austin.  I couldn’t have made a better decision.  Michelle is the most understanding and fun person. She gave me my creativity back, and in a sense, my life. I’ve learned more about design and really myself than I have in recent times. We work hard and we play hard, which has always been my philosophy. Austin is such a creative and inspiring hub, pushing the limits with design. It’s exactly what I needed.

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Working at home has helped rejuvenate me.  Of course if you’re going to work from home, you most definitely need to be organized, or else it doesn’t work out too well.  As I’m attempting to downsize my collection of books, samples, and other stuff, guess what I stumble upon?  Those 2 books. Flipping through those fabrics took me back 8 years. I went back through the journey and relived what has become my story.  I became emotional, but in that moment I didn’t understand why.  I can finally say I’m inspired in the way I as back then. I really didn’t want to part with the books, I cut out some of my favorite fabrics out of them.

Sometimes I wonder if leaving Florida was the right move.  I still feel like my heart is there.  Like maybe it’s the place I’m still meant to be.  But deep down I know there are no mistakes.  Everything happens for a reason. I’ve gained so much knowledge here in Texas. I’ve learned what I want to be like, and what I don’t want to be like in my career.  Some of our friends living in Florida seem to think we’ll end up there again one day.  Who knows. Maybe we will.  But what I do know is that I’m just so eternally grateful to be part of the career field I’m in.  I’m happy I stuck with it.  I’ve been a good mixture of lucky and blessed in my life, sharing it all with some great people along the way.  I’m proud of how far I’ve come, and look forward to where the future will take me.

there are no mistakes only opportunities.  - tina fey