on knowing yourself + defining your style

bamboofence

Recently I had a long conversation with a good friend about home design. We were exchanging ideas for each other’s houses. After I responded to her first few suggestions with, “I like it but that’s not really my style,” she stopped and looked at me, semi-exasperated, and said, “Then what is your style?”

I was immediately stumped. And not so much because I don’t know what I like as much as because I don’t know how to describe it. The matter is further complicated by the truth that what I’m drawn to is always changing, or maybe more accurately it is evolving.

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A short couple of years ago my friend and I had enjoyed watching Fixer Upper together and talking rustic farmhouse decor, or browsing Pinterest for ideas involving mason jars and pallet wood. But as the design world has moved on, so have I. When I brought this up with my friend, she seemed taken aback. She said, “I’m not sure you even know what you like.”

She wasn’t being rude or mean — she was frustrated by not knowing what to look for that would please me. But she hit at a sore spot for me personally.

I have seen the movie Runaway Bride more times than I know. It was a favorite of mine as a teenager. You might be surprised to find out my husband is possibly more fond of it than I am. From the earliest days of our marriage, whenever I was particularly indecisive about something he would quote Runaway Bride and ask me, “What kind of eggs do you like?”
The eggs trope got tired real fast for me. I’ve been told more than enough times for my own liking that I don’t know my own mind. Some of the criticism is fair — I have lacked confidence, I have been unsure of myself.

But some of it isn’t fair.

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There’s a difference between not knowing who you are, and acknowledging that you are constantly evolving. As we grow older we (hopefully) grow wiser. We come to know ourselves better and more fully. Sometimes this means discovering something about ourselves that was hidden to us previously. Sometimes it might mean learning that we had been operating on a misunderstanding of who we thought we were. It’s okay to accept that and be open about changing or appearing to change. And in those cases, I don’t think it’s fair to accuse someone of being fickle, or wishy-washy, or not knowing what kind of eggs they like.

It’s a tricky path to walk sometimes, treading the line between being flexible or easygoing on the one hand, and not being a total doormat on the other. Or finding balance between making choices which reflect something external (what I assume others want me to prefer) versus internal (what I actually prefer). When you are too focused on pleasing others, I think (and I say this from experience) you run the risk of eventually not being sure you know yourself at all.

Now to bring this back to the design world. On the one hand, it isn’t fair to say that I don’t know what I like just because I would buy a different sofa today than I would have bought 3 years ago. And it isn’t fair to say that just because I couldn’t come up with a great label/adjective for my style (“It isn’t RUSTIC FARMHOUSE anymore Karen, it’s CALI-SCANDI-BOHO-MINIMALISM.”) But on the other hand, if I’m the kind of person who finds that what they like changes all the time…maybe it is somewhat accurate.

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It’s one thing to point out that what’s hot now is fluid, trends are always changing, and to say that’s why your personal style evolves. But it pays to be sure that you can sift out your own voice amidst the ever-changing tide of What Everyone Likes Right Now.

Version 2

 

 

 

 

weekend link fest – 08.05.17

pinkombre

qúe es en tarnación — i actually have the morning to myself, out in the world. i’ve got a hot hour and a half to gather my thoughts here, and if you’re like me — a stay-at-home parent with several (so they tell me) small children, you know what a gift this is. (and a chance to realize that i no longer have any thoughts, just mush where my brain used to be, but that’s beside the point.) also. if you haven’t tried the pink ombré drink at starbucks yet, go do it. i’m usually not one for sweetened drinks, or really anything besides straight black coffee (hot in the morning, iced in the afternoon, naturally), but this drink has won me over. it’s perfect for those times when i’ve had too much caffeine (read: every single afternoon) and need something refreshing. i think it has tea, coconut milk, lime, something hibiscus…whatever it is, it’s crisp, only lightly sweet, and delicious.

moving on. because i love you all so much, i’m sharing with you some of the beautiful and strange things i’ve enjoyed on the internet this week. no need to thank me, you’re very welcome.

abmdarkstormypopsicles

to drink: dark and stormy popsicles from a beautiful mess. we’re using the term ‘drink’ loosely here, but i’m so perma-hot and thirsty (thanks summer) that a cocktail frozen into a popsicle sounds just *perfect*. these get extra nostalgia points from me — the first mixed drink I ever had was a dark and stormy, made for me by my grandad. anytime the dark and stormy comes up the husband and i always (fondly) quote him, “would you like to try a darrrk and storrrmy?”

to read: mental wellness by bri at designlovefest. in which bri passes along some great tips for keeping check of your mental state. this is a subject that hits close to home for me. i’m always always struggling with anxiety, and often feel mentally/emotionally fragile. i love it when people share openly not just about their struggles with this but also how they fight the good fight. i know for me personally, calming rituals and small indulgences mean a lot and keep my spirits up. bri touches on intentionally creating time in your morning to start the day peacefully — this is something that i know would help me, but that i have not been able to accomplish so far. something to work on…

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to style: hair tutorial: easy + pretty updo, from annesage.com. i’ll affirm the pretty part, but i’ll have to tackle it myself before i can comment on the easy. i’ve always been hair styling-inept personally, but now that i’m approaching middle age (haha), i’m ready to try. no time like the present, right??

to eat: pasta with tomato cream sauce from the pioneer woman herself. we had this for dinner last night, and suffice it to say nobody stopped to take a picture. we added tofu and bacon, for protein and deliciousness, respectively. and we went heavy on the fresh basil, because of course. carb overload? absolutely. regrets? none.

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to buy: mojave ghost by byredo. i am admittedly desert-obsessed at the moment, so did the name get me? yes. did the packaging get me? of course it did. but does it smell as good as it looks/sounds? you betcha. *smitten*


it’s time for me to head back to my rowdy crew. i can’t believe it’s already sunday. let’s finish this weekend strong, okay? be well everyone, and buckle up for safety.

 

morning musings: seeking balance amidst the chaos of motherhood and life

Raise your hand if you feel like you’re making it up everyday. I know I do. I feel like an Imposter Adult, like I’m just pretending as hard as I can, and hoping no one will notice me trying to blend in. In my head everyone else knows exactly what they’re doing, and I’m the only phony in the crowd. It’s hard to stay positive with a mentality like this, where you’re constantly fighting to suppress an inner voice telling you you’re a loser.

But occasionally the clouds in my mind part and I get a glimpse of someone else struggling with the same things I do.

I see another mom scrap her plans for the day because the baby is fussy and the older kids are belligerent.

Maybe it’s one of those days where you have so many things to get done, like taking care of the house, making tedious but important phone calls, running errands, whatever. And for once you wake up with plenty of energy or maybe you just had the right amount of coffee. Then it turns out somebody has a fever, or someone throws up. And all your mojo is gone, just like that.

Or maybe you didn’t wake up ready to kill it, maybe you got up on the wrong side of the bed. And you can’t quite seem to quit being short with everybody. You’re crabby and irritable, and spending the day taking care of your babies only exacerbates it. And you know you should do better — you know you have to do better — but some days you don’t have it in you.

Or maybe it’s just that dull part of the afternoon where it’s not quite dinnertime but all of your people (and you as well, or maybe you most of all) are just done. And you make some popcorn and park everybody in front of the tv for a bit just to catch your breath before the next wave hits.

When I’m being more honest and rational, I recognize it’s not just me. I believe most of us struggle with these kinds of days, some of us more than others. Being a parent is straight up exhausting. As rewarding as it is, it does sap you of a certain kind of energy. I think the wiser women and men among us remain aware of that, but we would all do well to remember it.

For me personally, I have found in the nine years since I embarked on this parenting journey that I need to make time to be alone. I’m deeply introverted, and being with people, especially my kids — even though they’re my favorite people — drains me; physically, mentally, emotionally most of all maybe. My husband is super helpful and I love that he looks out for me, and never minds hanging out with the kids while I go out. But that said, my favorite way to recharge is when they leave, and I get to be by myself in my house. It almost never happens, and I find myself often teetering on the edge of burnout.

via geologo

I put a lot of pressure on myself to live in a way that is (at least relatively) balanced. And rarely do I feel as though I’ve achieved that. I feel a sense of failure haunting me pretty much all of the time. I can remember my mom telling me years ago that ever since she became a mother she felt like guilt was always with her — she had a mental image of a giant ‘G’ for guilt just hanging out over her head, sometimes shrinking, sometimes growing, but always there. I can relate. I don’t think that’s a great way to live, but it probably is unavoidable to a certain degree. I wonder if maybe a healthier path is to try to make peace with the fact that we will never be exactly balanced. It might be inevitable to feel sometimes like you’re giving more than you even have to your people, and other times worry that you’re neglecting them by doing something that nourishes yourself.

There are seasons in life, and I feel like I would do well if I could internalize an acceptance of the ebb and flow of life, instead of trying to be everything to everyone always.


If you’re like me, and you constantly struggle with balancing and prioritizing your life, I want you to know you’re not alone! Chime in below in the comments and share some of the ways you look for balance in your life. Take care of yourselves out there fellow mamas. Until next time.

 

 

morning musing: on setting down roots

IMG_3099I found a quiet moment this morning to sit and jot down a few design-related thoughts for the new house. As I may or may not have mentioned here before, we will be taking very little that we already own with us when we move. The truth is, over 14 years of marriage and five different addresses, we haven’t accumulated much. We’ve never truly set up house in any real sense. We always felt like wherever we lived was temporary, and we were thinking about where we were going next. That feeling of impermanence (and its friend, instability) has gotten old. This time we’re setting up shop.

IMG_3100For a brief time we were nomads. We decided we would get rid of (nearly) everything we owned and just travel. We were going to cross the country, taking our time as we went, and figure out where we belonged. I think it was a combination of having watched Fight Club and Away We Go too many times. Or leftover fevered brains from having had our second baby within the last year. Whatever the case, we tried.

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Over the last few years the sense of Not Belonging Anywhere has gotten to us. After giving up our short-lived vagabond phase, we returned not home but to the town we grew up in, near family. We accidentally had another baby. (Happy) oops. Making friends (and getting to keep them) sounds great. It feels like a good time to settle down for awhile.

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And that’s going to take some furniture. (These are the lengths I’m willing to go to to justify shopping).

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Happy Monday everyone 🙂

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