I’m a big “goals” and “resolutions” person so typically this is my season, but this year I felt stumped until I started writing this. Of course, I’m going to do all the things to feel healthier after the unhealthy holiday binge stage (I’ll do ‘dry January’, workout to my favorite app, use my new sauna blanket, nourish my body through soup – JANSTEWARY IS ON, and maybe read something beyond addictive rom-com fiction). But those things feel silly and way too easy – it’s what I always do. I still want to “grow” and feel a sense of progress in a bigger way and that’s when I realized that 2020 shifted my perspective on “growth” – and this revelation has become the basis of my 2021 resolution. You see, I used to think growth meant doing more–more staff, more followers, higher numbers, more collaborations, more protocol, a big office, fancy monthly reports, more friend dates, more money, more social engagements, more “department heads” and me running around like a chicken with its head cut off doing 4-5 photoshoots a week, socializing too much only to mentally collapse twice a year (while trying to be a good partner and obsessively good parent). I was so proud of the business, of my ‘”success” and certainly I don’t regret the years of hard work that went into getting here, but what I’ve realized now is that there is truly a difference between being grateful for what you have, and being able to enjoy it.
The pandemic, quarantine, and the year of 2020 woke me up in a many ways – and I’m obviously not alone. It made me realize I had an addiction to being “busy” and being forced to stay home inadvertently saved me from myself, from what I call my “extrovert overextension disorder”. It also made me stop and be more thoughtful about the world, the planet, racial injustice, and my place in it all. OF COURSE, I wish this was not due to a world pandemic, but I have to, we all have to, respect what has happened enough to take a larger lesson from it and not just keep moving. First off, I had no idea how depleted I was until we moved up to the mountain house full time, and I was forced (and was lucky enough) to just stay home with my small family. It was a forced “busy detox”, where I learned that I don’t have to work 60 hours a week to “succeed” and “grow” and instead by slowing down I was able to see my impact on the world (both good and bad) and strengthen what matters to me–my marriage, my connection to my kids, and humanity. Like many of us, by slowing down I woke up. I know that even being able to make this shift, to slow down, comes from privilege, not to negate years of hard work and experience. I feel so grateful that I learned this in 2020 and not in another 10 years after checking myself into exhaustion rehab and missing being truly ‘present’ during my kids’ childhood. The best and most confusing part is that there was truly no way for me–for any of us–to learn these lessons without actually going through it. For me, business-wise I had to build it all up, sprint fast and crash for 10 + years just to learn that I want a different kind of growth. You think you know your capacities, boundaries, strengths, and weaknesses. Maybe you do want to grow an empire and become the next Martha Stewart, but also maybe you don’t. And that’s ok 🙂 Having a career you are proud of and you truly enjoy doesn’t mean you need to build a “big business”. In fact, often in creative fields they are actually at odds. There are a lot of different paths to and definitions of “success” so to each their own. And who knows how it will change as the years go on. I truly am not trying to predict it–just being present and staying awake through it. Like muscles, what I learned in 2020 business/career-wise is that healthy growth for me is to feel ‘lean’ and ‘strong’, not ‘bigger’ and ‘more’. Thanks, Universe. Much appreciated (and Brian, Charlie, and Elliot thank you too) :).
Additionally, my team and I are excited and committed to continue being a part of making the design and blog world more equitable for BIPOC. I’m proud of the shifts we made in 2020 and we have some very exciting things in the works for 2021. One of the best takeaways I learned personally (and professionally) is to think more critically about my impact on others and the planet in every single thing I do and say, not just my intent. My intentions have never been bad–most of ours aren’t, but my impact is a different story, but I just wasn’t able to see it. In 2021 we’ll have a lot of conversations about this, we will have contributors and continue waking up to the realities of the world and how we can change, prevent and protect it (as one of our favorite readers/commenters, Rusty, always reminds us–there is no “Planet B”). Being sustainable is going to be even more of a focus for me in 2021 as well as continuing to try hard to not let my fear of making mistakes publicly stop me from having hard conversations about race. Let us never forget or go back. Ever.
OK. Enough about my self-reflection – what is in store this year design-wise??? What’s happening on the blog???? IT’S VERY EXCITING.
I have two new major design projects to document: our new/old home we just closed on in Portland AND my first new build for my brother’s family (on a river, also in Portland). Both of which I’m so excited about that I worked on them a ton over the break (hence why this post is on Jan 4th and not Jan 1st) and I can’t WAIT to show you. And even more exciting is I’m going about them VERY differently than the last two major projects. Again, I learned some lessons that I’m not letting myself forget no matter how much “fun” it seems to do it all. Being a very high-energy (enneagram 7) with a propensity to work myself to exhaustion, makes it difficult to know my own boundaries and capabilities. With the right teams in place, I’m hoping to manage it better and get a better result, actually. Maybe even less mistakes? Wouldn’t that be nice!! I can’t WAIT to introduce you to the creative professionals that are helping me execute these projects, so I can continue to run the blog, write a lot, and parent my two favorite small humans without falling back into my old patterns. I will not go back. I will not go back.
We also have so many design projects from our team of contributors that will be revealed, a few MOTOs (Makeover Takeovers) in the works, in addition to the relatable and helpful content and articles that we all grew to love in 2020 (again, thanks to my wonderful team). 2020 taught us that you guys love personal, relatable blog posts (us, too) so in addition to these huge renovations that I’ll be doing, we’ll continue talking about things like where to put your litter box and how to buy a super comfortable sofa online (both surprise blog hits!).
ALSO, THE BOOK. Oof. The manuscript is due in 10 days and comes out in November and while I’m not the best at self-promotion, this book will have been 3 years of my life and I’m already SO PROUD OF IT I WANT TO SCREAM. Of course, I couldn’t have done it with all these talented people: Velinda, Sara, Jessica, Angelina, Julie, Emily Bowser, Grace, Veronica, and Erik – it’s epic and was a huge team effort). I find this book so useful and beautiful and regardless of any future “success”, I’m so proud of it and will use it over and over for every design project in my future. If you liked Styled and are ever considering doing even more to your home beyond styling shelves and pillows, I hope you’ll love the information (and photography) in this book. November 9th, set your alarms 🙂
So, BUH-BYE 2020. I know we still have a long road ahead (pleeease continue to be safe) but I can’t wait for the world to open up, for the kids to go back to school, and even have new Portland neighborhood friends. I can’t wait for us to be able to do more in-person feel good makeovers and service projects, to see and hug my team, have some happy hours and fun in-person shoot days, for Brian and I to go to an indoor restaurant on a proper date where I might even wear an underwire bra, skinny jeans, and heels. Maybe. I can’t wait for us to be able to gather with friends without awkward conversations beforehand about who else they’ve seen or when’s the last time they’ve been tested – pod drama is a real thing and I’m over it. And I can’t wait for all healthcare workers, essential workers, and teachers to have a bit of a break, to do their already hard jobs with less fear, and hopefully they will feel the appreciation, respect, and love that they deserve – FOREVER.
I suppose the real 2021 resolution could be to collectively take the lessons of 2020 and use them to make the world better. Seems more important than a juice fast or reading more non-YA novels. 🙂
Again I can’t tell you how much YOU, this community of lovely people, means to us. Your daily reading, supporting, and commenting brought us through 2020 and gave us a lot of light and love in a challenging year. May it be a happy, nay happier, New Year. Cheers to 2021, where growth might look and feel different for all of us, and hopefully the universal perspective shift will continue to help us make the world a bit better. xx
(P.S. I’d love to hear any goals or resolutions in the comments if you feel like sharing–or even how 2020 shifted your perspective of ‘growth’ like it did me).
Opener Image Credit: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Mountain House Reveal: Our Calm Scandinavian Master Bedroom