Secret Wishes

SecretWishes

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Have you ever found yourself secretly wishing for something huge or even catastrophic to happen to you just so you would have an excuse for change?

The most shameful secret wish I’ve ever had was when I started fantasizing about my ex-husband’s death while we were still married – the vow “’til death do us part” made it seem like the only feasible option out. That lasted for about a year until I realized that I could get out of a stagnant marriage without anybody having to die for it. It turns out a breaking a promise is far more responsible than wishing death on someone.

On a smaller scale, I’ve secretly wished that I would come down with a flu – just so I could have some time to rest.

A secret wish I commonly hear from other creatives is that they’ll get laid off or fired from their 9-to-5 day job so they can finally do their own thing.

The thing about secret wishes is they start out quiet. Over time get louder and louder. They become not so secret. That’s when you can be sure that your secret wish is a true desire. And it just so happens that true desires don’t have to manifest out of catastrophe. It usually just takes a bold decision followed by a first step.

I’d love to hear your secret wish – though, it won’t be so secret anymore if you share it with me here.  But maybe that’s a good thing.

The Nest

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A few months ago I was invited by a blog reader and Apartment Therapy contributor to feature my home on the popular blog featuring cool spaces. At first, I was thrilled. Then I became paralyzed. I kept dropping the ball and missing self-imposed deadlines to submit my space. The idea of cleaning, styling, and photographing my home felt like a daunting task. But more than anything – after being in this space for almost 5 years I wasn’t sure I could capture how cozy we’ve made it. Things like burning incense, the smell of spices, the sound of music and boiling tea kettles don’t quite translate in photos – and I feel like those are the things that make our home feel more like a nest.

Plus, after 5 years of feeling pretty content / unfazed by my usual surroundings I’m ready to make some pretty significant changes. First off, Tara and I just signed a lease on a historical apartment near downtown – we’ll be moving Braid out of my home and into its very own dedicated space this summer (more on that later). I want to replace my mid-century modern dining room table with something low to the ground that is made of chunky reclaimed wood – with layered rugs and pillows to lounge on while we eat dinner with friends. We’re finally investing in my dream mattress + a solid platform bed and we’ll be moving back into our master bedroom where the Braid office has been for the last two years. I’ve been collecting textiles and trinkets from places far and wide to layer into our nest. At the same time I have an urge to edit and organize (falling into the couch always seems to take priority over sorting, tossing, and donating). I’m really looking forward to bringing a little more intention and attention back to the place I call home. Most of all, I want our space to accommodate the lives we actually live and reflect who we really are – even if it’s not 100% pinnable.

A Day With Brené Brown

ADayWithBreneBrown

If you had told me a year ago that I would, in a year, be spending a day with Dr. Brené Brown in her Houston, Texas home I would have told you to shut the front door. And then I would’ve impatiently spend the next year crossing each day off the calendar like a kid waiting for Christmas.

If you don’t know who Brené Brown is check out her TED talk on vulnerability – take 20 minutes to watch it right now and then come back. It changed my life – along with the lives of over 9 million other viewers. I was already a fan of Brené when I went to Mighty Summit and received a signed copy of Daring Greatly. After reading Daring Greatly I was preaching Brené’s rallying cry to get in the arena, show up and be seen. I did a review of Daring Greatly on the Braid blog and tweeted it – Brené saw the tweet, read the review, and replied on Twitter that she loved it. It made my day.

A couple months later I became breathless when I saw an email from Brené in my inbox. She had been following our work ever since our tweet exchange and needed a brand overhaul before going on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday in a couple of months. She wanted to hire us for the job. There was lots of back and forth – she needed design work and didn’t necessarily have the time to commit to going through the entire collaborative Braid Method (the way Tara and I insist on working with our clients – every. single. time.)  The dream of working with a hero felt like a slippery fish in my hands. But eventually she said “Hired!” She knew we were the ones who could take her brand where it needed to go. I knew it too. Writing her name on our client chalkboard felt like a surreal dream.

The next few months involved lots of Skyping between Brené, Tara, and myself. I’ll never forget the time Oprah herself called Brené while we were in a Skype session together. Tara and I couldn’t wait to tell our mom and dad. (Though… now my dad thinks we actually work with Oprah.) And then there was the time Brené was video conferencing with us in her pajamas from a hotel room before a huge speaking gig – it was at that point that she felt almost like family.

And then just a couple weeks ago Tara and I were working, shoes off and side-by-side, with in her comfy living room knocking out a web project. Not only was Brené giving us enthusiastic approval on the designs we were creating for her, but she was bringing me plates of sugar cookies and strawberries. It would have been easy to get caught up in the stress or fear that comes with being a creative working for A Big Deal but instead I chose to take in the moment with all of my senses and radiate gratitude from every cell of my being. And when we needed little breaks from work we talked about life – and Brené felt like an aunt I’ve known my whole life. The whole thing felt like a dream.

After a long day of really hard work I asked Brené if she would mind giving me just a little bit of advice for bloggers who might be a little hesitant to show up and be seen. What she said was simple but golden. Read these gifts of wisdom straight from Brené Brown, for you, over at the Braid Blog.

Anatomy of an Outfit | Summer Style

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Lately when I’ve been getting dressed I don’t feel like a total post-apocalyptic badass. Nor stylish. Sometimes I just feel frumpy – and like perhaps this is the beginning of letting myself go. It probably has something to do with the fact that right now my two style icons are Mary-Kate Olson (who somehow rocks the frumpy-boho-holes-in-clothes look) and Rachel Zoe (who doesn’t eat, wears coats in the summer, and has a head small enough for a fedora). But instead of starving myself or going on a spending spree I accessorize. A french roll on the hem of my jeans, feather earrings from hitchhikers I picked up in Mexico, and a stack of bracelets seem to do the trick.

Here I’m wearing Jeremy’s jeans – they’re my favorite. Sometimes sneak into my closet in hopes of permanent custody, but I think the fact that they’re his is what makes me love them so. I recently purchased a neon yellow bandeau which has transformed half of my see-thru wardrobe and am wearing the Clara necklace by my favorite jewelry maker Merl Kinzie.

What do you do when you’re feeling frumpy or less than your usual badass self? 

Coaching for Creatives | Fixing vs. Holding Space

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I’m going through 8 months of extensive life coach training with Martha Beck. My decision to become a life coach for creatives came from my own adventure in discovering the power of writing our own narrative and designing our own lives.  But sometimes the stories we tell ourselves can hold us back or keep us feeling stuck. This column on & Kathleen will be exploring the lessons and concepts I am learning as I become a coach.

Fixing A Problem vs. Holding Space for It
As I started practicing life coaching on real clients I noticed an insane urge to FIX the problems they were having. With an education and career in graphic design and art direction my role has been primarily that as a resourceful problem solver. And now as a brand and creative business consultant I get paid good money to tell people what to do. But coaching is very different. My job as a coach isn’t to fix somebody’s problem or slap a band-aid over their insecurities. Through lots of questioning and a little bit of intuition, my job as a life coach is to help my client find a self-limiting belief and hold space around it. Identifying the negative thought alone can be powerful enough to bring an “ah-ha” kind of closure to it. Holding space around the self-limiting belief allows for a shift in perspective and a positive transformation to take place.

I’m finding that this very principle of holding space is changing the way I approach my relationships – both in business (with my co-workers and clients alike) and my personal life.

For example, last week Tara (my sister and business partner) and I were on a business trip to Houston. We were sitting poolside at Hotel Zaza, ready to chill with our Kindles in hand, and instead had some pretty serious conversation around the direction of our own thriving business and personal insecurities. We were discussing our dream customer* and who we’re able to help the most – it turns out “creative entrepreneur” is becoming pretty broad and the people we feel like we know inside and out around are designers (both freelance and at within 9-to-5 agency walls). We also talked about scarier and more vulnerable “what if” topics like “what if I decide to focus on my family and don’t want to work so hard anymore” and “what if I want to go back to the security and structure of a 9-to-5.”  My instinct was to go into fix it mode. I immediately wanted to redesign, reposition, and restrategize our entire business model. I immediately wanted to find certainty in a future that just can’t be told. Instead I held space – for myself and my sister – to explore the what ifs. And you guys, I literally and intentionally had to say, out loud, “We don’t need to fix this right now. The conversation alone is working its magic.” At the end of our conversation we didn’t have answers but we definitely had a little less weight on our shoulders – we were also clear on the fact that we had time to figure it out.

Ego vs. Heart
I’m very certain that the part of me that wants to fix problems is my ego. Now, “ego” is a loaded word with negative connotations – but it’s not always a bad thing. My ego also gives me drive and is the part of me that gets shit done. My ego lives in my solar plexus – the soft space right above my stomach and just below my chest where my rib cages meet. I know my ego needs some checking when I feel tightness or fire in my solar plexus – and this often happens when I don’t have an answer. My ego can’t stand questions. So what do I do? I move north to my heart.

The heart finds answers in the questions. The heart holds space and endless amounts of compassion and forgiveness for uncertainty and the emotions that rise from insecurity. If I’m feeling like I don’t know the answer I direct the question to my heart – I literally move my thoughts and imagine that they’re coming from my heart rather than from my mind.  And this doesn’t just happen during woo-woo meditation sessions – if I can manage to think from my heart when I’m doing everything from working to cooking I get a lot less wigged out about life.

Try This:
The next time you feel stuck or come against uncertainty try holding space for the issue rather than trying to fix it. Get curious about it – ask more questions – feel free to have pen and paper handy to get some of those thoughts out. Then try holding the question in your heart (and I mean literally imagine it in your chest – wrapping itself around the chambers and valves of your heart) and see what comes from that. Try practicing holding space in your work – with your coworkers and clients – and see what it does for you.

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*P.S. If you’re interested in doing more work around your dream customer we have a Braid ECourse on the topic open for registration. Dream Customer Catching: Embrace Your Expertise and Attract What You Track is equal parts manifesting what you want paired with some really practical how-to. Our ECourses are loaded with worksheets and content that will get you thinking. This ECourse will be in-session from June 21 – 30th and is $75 – but you can take it for $50 using this discount code when you check out: ANDKATHLEEN50