Living the Back Up Plan First

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image via 

Have any of you watched The OA yet on Netflix?  I don’t watch a ton of TV, but a few weeks ago I had a night to myself and started it on a whim.  I got hooked.  And when I like something, I can’t just like it.  I have to obsessively Google the back story and learn about the people behind the projects, and I go down an internet rabbit hole of short lived obsession.  Totally normal, right?

Before watching this show, I had never heard of Brit Marling.  What interested me was that she not only stars in the series, but was one of the creators of the show.  So here’s a woman who had a story to tell, and made it happen in a very big way.  I love that!   What’s more – I came across this video  interview with her, where she discusses leaving her cushy corporate gig at Goldman Sachs to pursue her passion.

Sounded quite a bit like my own story (litigation paralegal turned interior designer).  When I get into a comparison hole and wonder why I’m not further ahead on my current path, I need to just remind myself that I did it backwards.  And dreams take a long time to pin down into specifics, so it’s not such a bad deal that I’m still working it all out.  The fact that I am is what matters.


Do any of you have a back up plan?  Or a dream you are saving for later on down the road?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

To China

My little baby brother, only 20 years old, is moving to China today.  How exciting!  How brave!

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Photo by the oh-so-talented Anna Sodziak.

He is, like my sister and me, an artistic soul, quiet (at first), contemplative, and a big dreamer.  He, like me, decided New York was not all it’s cracked up to be, and decided to take a break.  When I did that, I decided to move to Chicago, and I’m still here 11 years later.  When he decided, it took him all the way to the other side of the planet.

I have always wanted to live abroad but just never made the space in my life to do so.  I get very comfortable and like to be caught up in routines.  They make me feel secure and stable.  I’m a 50/50 split between a city girl and a homebody.  (Like those New Yorkers who never leave Manhattan, but not quite so drastic.)   I have to admit I’m a teeny bit jealous of his big adventure – all the things he’ll get to see in Beijing, and all of the tasty food he’s going to eat.  I know I’d be doing dumplings and Dim Sum all day every day!

I talked to my parents who were a bit tearful and sad, as to be expected.  They are officially empty nesters now.  I’ll have to go home more and bug them.  But we are all wishing David the very best of luck on his trip.  That he can find his way in a world where he doesn’t yet know the language, won’t know his way around, and will have to point to the things (he thinks) he wants on a menu.

This is a year for big change.  I knew it, I could feel it, I willed that it MUST BE.  As 2016 was drawing to a close, I asked the universe to please let us keep going, not allow us to blow up in a terrible disaster so that we could keep living happy and productive lives as best as we could.  So far, we’ve been very fortunate to not have every single one of our rights and expectations for life taken away from us, but that may still be coming.  For some of us, that may come sooner rather than later.  In the mean time, we have to focus on what we can still do, and what’s still out there for the taking.

Like China.

CHINA!!!

Final Penthouse Pictures!

I realize I never shared the final photos of my penthouse project.   This was my first time doing a “turn key” furnishing project.  Turnkey is in quotes, because I didn’t go so far as to pick out their silverware, dishes, etc before they moved in, but we did prep all of the furniture and bed and bath linens so that when they arrived for Christmas, they had one less thing to stress about.

The client had a pretty modest budget – he purchased the condo for his two grown children to live in post college / law school, and so he didn’t want to spend a ton where it wasn’t necessary.  We kept the furnishings and decor modern and youthful, but sophisticated enough so that they had room to grow up.

I had a lot of fun working on this project.  Because they lived in DC, they relied on me heavily to make decisions and it was exciting (and scary!) to be flying solo.  I’ve only ever worked on a team, so this was a true test.  I’m pretty happy with how things turned out – especially considering we knocked this out in 2 months with a limited budget!

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One thing I definitely need to work on is accessorizing and styling for photos.  It was tough because we did our shoot before the client moved in, so there were zero personal affects laying around for us to play with.   My photographer and I lugged in bags and bags of accessories and books up to the unit for this shoot, and it still felt like we didn’t have enough.  This is one aspect of not having a team of people working with me that I really felt the most.  But that’s ok!  It was my first solo project, and I am pretty happy with it.

Photography by Amanda Freeman

 

Something about Stillness 

When my nails are wet I struggle to find the patience to sit still long enough for them to dry.  Suddenly things involving my hands are very important, like adjusting the waist band of my pants to hold in my fupa, or rearranging the contents of the refrigerator so I don’t forget to eat something before it goes bad the next day.  There is always one finger that I have to paint over and over again, despite my greatest efforts to only grab things with the palms of my hands, fingers stretched out straight.  I just can’t sit still.

When I lie in bed at night, I wriggle and fidget and scratch.  Some nights are worse than others, and I am overcome by an all over itch.  It pricks me in one spot, and then another.  Scratching to satisfy the itch only sends it somewhere else. Lower legs, middle back, left eyebrow, back of the head.  It’s as if my brain is playing Simon with my body, lighting up the spots for me to get to next.  Some nights are worse than others, and I know I am in for a long battle before sleep finally comes.

What is this restlessness?  Is it possible that my mind cannot find stillness and my body therefore suffers?  Lately I have started using an app on my phone to guide me into sleep.  I’ve never really spent much time meditating before, and the silly feeling creeps in that I might be doing something wrong.  Growing up I had the same question about prayer.  How did people know what to do?  What to say?  It was not a thing I was taught to do, or that was expected of me, and so I never developed it as a habit or a practice.

But practice is what they call it when you meditate.  I am practicing the quieting of my mind.  I am practicing the strengthening of the link between my mind and body.  “Shut up” I say.  I know that’s not the greatest mantra, but it’s all I can think of, and like with prayer, I never learned how to do this.  I know when I practice yoga, I feel it.  With movement and breath I feel it.  But something about stillness prevents me from finding peace. My mind becomes defiant, battling the quiet with obsessive and circular thoughts; my brain sends signals to my body that cause me to tear at my own skin with my nails until it hurts.  To the point where I find myself at 9 pm, 10 pm, 11 pm looking for something else to do to avoid the painful struggle that is falling asleep.

Maybe I should work out more.  Physical exhaustion to slow down the mind.  Maybe I need to get back on the wagon of eating clean again.  Maybe I should cool it with the self help and career advice books that do more harm than good.  I am constantly stressed that I’m not happy enough, I’m not hustling enough, I’m not picky enough about how I use my time.  Depending on where I look, I can find a reason why I am not enough, and it is wearing me down to the point where I can’t stop thinking about it and can’t sleep.  I need to figure out how to rid myself of the tendency to overthink literally everything.  But maybe I won’t try too too hard to figure it out.  Maybe that’s the ticket.

Home Office Ideas

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Photo of me by my lovely friend Amanda 

I have a ton of books.  Like, a TON.  In the photo above, what you don’t see is the top row of books on the super tall book shelf, another overflowing book shelf next to it, or the other two book exploding shelves across (you can see the side of one on the left of the picture).  Add to that a growing sample library, project files, and notebook collection.  My office, which is half library, half museum, is becoming just a tiny bit out of control.    Continue reading “Home Office Ideas”

Project Snapshots

I realize I don’t put a lot on this blog about the things I’m working on, and so I’d like to share some tidbits from a project I’m wrapping up.  A few months ago, I was contacted by a lovely family who purchased a second home in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood and needed their new empty condo completely furnished.  Sound like a dream?  I know… Continue reading “Project Snapshots”

2017 Goals

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Image via Drew Ellis, found on Pinterest, obvi.

We’re fast approaching the end of 2016 (phew!), and now is the time that many of us are making resolutions for next year.  Somehow it seems more important and serious this time around, as if suddenly a switch has been flipped inside of me, and I now understand the consequences of inaction.

Most of my goals for next year focus on financial stability and growth.  I want to pay off my credit cards, and make room to start saving towards our goal of buying a home.   Of course, I want to make sure I’m working enough to afford to do all of that.  If possible, I would love it if the work was rewarding and fun, but I won’t get ahead of myself here…

Aside from that I’m trying to prioritize my efforts so that they fit into the following three categories.  I’m going for improvement, not perfection, with happiness as the main goal. Continue reading “2017 Goals”

Grinchy ’16

I know it’s Christmas, but I just have to come out and say that I’m just not feeling it this year.  I kept waiting for the spirit of the season to hit me, but it just never came.  To be 100% honest, I’ve been a total freak lately.

Well, I should say lately as in, after we returned from our official honeymoon trip to Mexico.  After spending a glorious week actually relaxing on the beach in the sunshine, it’s hard to come back to Chicago’s temperatures (sub-zero when you count wind chill).  It was so important and refreshing to take a break and disconnect from work and emails.  I barely looked at or posted on Instagram, I didn’t give a hoot about what people were putting on Facebook.  I was just happy to BE where I was and experience what I was doing.  We didn’t even take as many photos as we thought we would, but I find that’s always the case when I go on vacation.  I pack up the camera stuff and a notebook, and have to force myself to even just get a page of writing done to justify bringing it along.

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Continue reading “Grinchy ’16”

Dining Room Rug

The other day, we made a quick jaunt out to Ikea (our favorite spontaneous weekend activity), and came back with more than we needed – as usual! Ikea is like Target for me – it doesn’t matter if I only need one thing, somehow I always end up in the check out line with a full cart!  (As AirBNB hosts we always have a need for something, plus MJ loves Swedish Fish..)

My absolute favorite section is the As-Is, where they put discounted merchandise that’s often perfectly good.  I’ve gotten lucky so many times, with so many different kinds of products.  We’ve found complete duvet sets that were previously on display, large picture frames for $4 because they changed the packaging and wanted to get rid of the old ones…. you get the picture.  This time, we came away with a sisal rug that I’d been eyeing!  I wanted to buy it anyway, but at 40% off how could I say no?

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Continue reading “Dining Room Rug”

Thanks for Everything

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2016 has been – and continues to be – a total whirlwind of a year.  My limits of patience and tolerance have been tested.  I’ve had to come up with creative solutions for everything from planning a wedding on a budget to building a business from scratch.  I have had moments where I felt I was failing, where wonderful things seemed too good to be true, and everything in between.  In the spirit of the holiday weekend that is now coming to a close, I’d like to express my gratitude.

To the days that left me feeling worn out, but not quite broken.  To the extraordinary person I get to share my life and home with for being ever supportive and patient.  To my family – old and new, and friends – old and new, for being my amazing network of love and trust.  Despite all the days I felt lost and like I had nothing to stand on, I know what I have is pretty great, and that I’m a lucky girl.

The year isn’t over yet, but still I am so grateful for all of the lessons it has taught me.  Lessons in humility, hard work, perseverance.  Deep wounds have had time to heal, and I know now that any problem I face will someday be a thing of the past.  The best is yet to come.

I hope everyone had a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday!  Now, who’s ready for Monday?