Good growth.

Ahhh. It’s officially 2019. This year, with the holidays falling in the middle of the week, it seems like a quieter season than in years gone by. It’s been blissful for me personally. It’s also been a good time to reflect on the past while looking toward the future—all while attempting to find presence in the ever shifting current of moments. The past, present and future all combined in one somewhat arbitrary moment as the calendar numbers change but not much else does—that’s quite a lofty moment to be present in. There’s certainly a fine balance to achieving that.

Running a business is almost always a dance with finding balance. Designers who work on events, release dates, etc. are often working hard to meet deadlines that require fast thinking, quick action, and well-crafted turnaround. It’s one of the things that I love about the business, and after all these years, I’m really good at it. Maybe it’s akin to the feeling runners have when they run a race or when dancers master complex choreography before a big performance debut. There’s an adrenaline rush at times. Other times it can feel like time and space just stop and the process merges into a “flow of life.” Balancing all of that quick “running” and “dancing” with an occasional slower pace is good practice.

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Two or three months ago, I passed an estate sale sign posted on a street I recognized. A long-time friend of mine who passed away a few years ago lived on this street in a beautiful Victorian house with her husband. She was instrumental in the success of my business in its infancy by offering guidance as well as collaboration with new client relationships. She was strong, opinionated and not afraid to speak her mind in business, politics, or relationships. Being somewhat meek, introverted and shy at the time, she scared me at times with her boldness. I absolutely loved it too.

So to my delight and as I suspected, this estate sale was in her home. It seems her lovely husband is remarrying and making room for his new bride. It’s more evidence of the beauty of life lived well. I perused the sale and picked up a few tiny beautiful things that reminded me of my friend as well as a sad little orchid that had been passed over. My history with orchids has been more disappointing than not, but bringing it home didn’t feel like a risky investment.

Remarkably, pausing for that sale has given me sweet insight. Within a week or two, the orchid almost immediately sprouted a new leaf and several buds.

I’ve practiced yoga for over two decades. It’s one of the ways I find balance. One of my teachers would often quote one of her teachers: “Slow growing is good growing.” I’ve pondered that lately not just in terms of yoga but also in life. This quote was meant to instill mindfulness. Watching this new-to-me orchid was an example of this lesson.

If you’ve never waited for an orchid to bloom, you may not realize that they take their sweet time. They require patient attention, nurturing, just the right amount of light and maybe even a touch of suspense. They seemingly pause until those who wait for them can truly appreciate the blossoming. Once an orchid finally blooms, it’s quite a spectacle to behold. This particular one has had me especially mesmerized.

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Pausing is healthy. We all intuitively know this and sometimes we have to remind ourselves. Slowing the pace a bit creates fertile ground for smarter growth and greater creativity. With two orchid blooms opened and several more to follow, I enter this new year eager, refreshed and ready to roll.

I remain true to all my clients’ needs and am so very grateful for the “races” we run together. I also welcome the pauses we give each other to integrate, nurture and grow. Whether over holidays, vacations, weekends or those spaces between projects, these pauses help foster the “blossoming” of our work together. I’m excited about the great potential in our work ahead. It’s certainly what I love to do! I hope you enjoyed the holidays too and look forward what’s ahead. Happy New Years!

Grateful. Eventful. Heartful.

You know that the antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest? The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness.
— David Whyte

I recently came across the above quote penned by renowned poet, David Whyte, just as the holiday season was beginning. The timing seemed more than relevant. I’ve heard from more than just a few people that 2018 has been a challenge. Add the holiday season and it can seem like a time of exhaustion as many Westerners are running from one item on their to do list to another and trying to fit it all in. I am no exception. Yet it’s the time of year when time spent with those I don’t see often enough is relished and when the invitation to attend events pour in. November was chock full of all of this and December seems to hold similar blessings. Rather than exhaustion though, it has been feeding my soul.

November has historically been especially festive for me as it’s the month of Studio Haus’s anniversary; Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday simply because it combines some of the best things in life: food, fellowship and gratitude); cooler temps which appeal to my adventurous and outdoorsy inclinations; even the rumblings of cinema’s award season with all the new movie releases and best guesses as to which trend-setters will shine on the red carpet while wearing the most talked about fashion. This is a really great time of year to feed the creative spirit. Here are just a few other ways I was able to achieve this in the past month:

The branding for the JAST’s 4th Annual Women’s Leadership Forum and Networking Luncheon incorporated leaves herbs often used in the Japanese meals.

The branding for the JAST’s 4th Annual Women’s Leadership Forum and Networking Luncheon incorporated leaves herbs often used in the Japanese meals.

Japan-America Society of Tennessee’s Fourth Annual Women’s Leadership Forum and Networking Luncheon (which I also created the graphics for) was held at the lovely Green Door Gourmet and the panelists this year each had a connection to food. President and co-founder of Green Door Gourmet, Sylvia Harrelson Ganier spoke about how she created a place where delicious farm to table food could be served in a beautiful setting for a uniquely wonderful experience. Author and restaurateur Sarah Gavigan talked about the art of ramen, her Nashville restaurant Otaku Ramen, and her book Ramen Otaku. And Mayumi Uejima-Carr, President of Table for Two USA, shared how the non-profit came into being in Japan and is now spreading throughout many countries. She even taught attendees the art of making onigiri and how social media is helping to feed many who live in poverty by using the tag #onigiriaction.

Mayumi Uejima-Carr , President of  Table for Two USA , sharing the craft of making onigiri and how it is helping to feed those living in poverty.

Mayumi Uejima-Carr, President of Table for Two USA, sharing the craft of making onigiri and how it is helping to feed those living in poverty.

November also held the inaugural Nashville Design Week, “...a city-wide series of interdisciplinary programs and events to unite the design community, promote collaboration and idea sharing, engage the public, and elevate the impact of Nashville’s design economy.” While I would have liked to attend many more of the over 100 scheduled events, there was only time for a few with deadlines to be met. The panel discussion, Art Life Balance, Creative Work From Home presented some great tips and advice as well as a surprise discovery that one of the panelists was talented friend and musician, Jack Silverman with his lovely and equally talented wife in their beautiful home, featured in the latest issue of Nashville Interiors.

Then came NDW’s session, Ironware International: The Best Kept Secret in Nashville which provided an opportunity to see the work of a company I’ve been admiring for years. (I have longed to design lighting for quite some time—it may be many years before that can happen but if the seeds get planted, the fruits may eventually grow.)

This is just one example of Ironware International’s beautiful craftsmanship showcased during the inaugural Nashville Design Week.

This is just one example of Ironware International’s beautiful craftsmanship showcased during the inaugural Nashville Design Week.

Then came the Arts & Business Council’s Paths to Publishing panel discussion in partnership with The Porch and held and the nationally-acclaimed Parnassuss Books. Panelists included a literary agent, attorney, editor, publicist, and two authors, who helped navigate the benefits and challenges as well as the legal and business issues along the path from idea to manuscript to publication. Designing books has always held a special place in my heart and it’s a treat to hear so many perspectives about the publishing process, especially as I currently work on a new book’s design. (Stay tuned for more details.)

Speaking of books, November’s inspiring events ended with a legendary figure: Annie Lebovitz, ‘one of the most influential photographers of our time.” The event marked the publication of a revised and expanded edition of Annie Leibovitz at Work. She shared stories about how her work evolved over time with quite possibly the broadest spectrum of characters and subjects that shaped her remarkable career (Allen Ginsberg, Richard Nixon, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Keith Haring, Queen Elizabeth II, her family, just to name a few).

Looking over my calendar of events from November at first glance felt exhausting but I must admit that it all evaporated as people spoke about the things they do wholeheartedly with their lives. These speakers all discussed how the creative life can be one of hard work and hard knocks and yet provide some of the greatest rewards imaginable. It was another reminder that I wouldn’t trade any of it. I simply love anything I can do with a full heart and the creative spirit has met that criteria throughout my career. I am grateful for it all.

Good Food and Gratitude

It’s another Studio Haus anniversary of business and I don’t have a whole lot to say except to share wishes of good food and gratitude during this month of Thanksgiving and all our days ahead. The leaves are beginning to turn where I am and the celebrations of fellowship have already begun. I’m excited about the current projects and those ahead of me with new clients and some I’ve been fortunate to continue working with over many years now. It’s a blessing to offer what I love to the world, so thank you for it all.

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Short & Sweet

It’s been a busy few weeks and after completing work for two events, with a flurry of finished projects and several others waiting in the wings, sharing artwork seems the way to go for this month’s post. With all the rumblings of the power of women’s voices these days, even in their quiet but assured tones, finding rest in the quiet spaces has been of utmost importance. Here’s a piece that began in one of my favorite ways of resting: drawing the human figure. Have a wonderful October.

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