Bungalow Blogspot

My friend is keeping a blog to track a big home renovation project. Admittedly I pressured her into it because it just seemed like a great way to keep her friends and family up to date! We have been friends since we met freshman year in college and I think as the years have passed we have developed a great friendship.  She is a very successful business woman who has an amazing eye for interior decorating.  I often tell her I cannot wait to see where her design career takes her.  I believe she will do something more than side projects – interior design consultant or contractor?  She has a passion that could really turn into something great, I believe.  She has a knack for color, fabric, and furniture coordination that I find to be enviable.  She has lived in many different places and one thing is for sure, she always finds just the right space to impart impeccable taste and creative ideas.  A few years ago, while she was preparing to move from New York City to London, she was creating her interior design plan.  She had a ziploc bag of fabric swatches which amazed me as this was all she needed to style her new flat.  She took the swatches everywhere in New York City as she shopped for all the furniture and accents for her London home.   She finds inspiration for design so easily.  I would need full on home decorating magazine.  I had the chance to visit her London flat and it was a fantastic.  She worked with white, shades of grey and shades of purple.  I posted a picture at the end of this post .  She recently set up some Pinterest boards with so many great ideas that I think I will fly her to New Jersey when the day comes that I buy a bigger home.  I can always use help with the color coordination and furniture ideas.  Anyway, here is a link to Kim’s blog to see what is happening today with her new home.  http://kalbungalow.blogspot.com/

Thank you for reading this blog and my friend’s blog!


Liebster Award

A Liebster Award

I was so surprised when my friend Carissa reached out to tell me that she was nominating this blog for a Liebster Award. It is a nice way to introduce others to new blogs and writers and it is so nice to know someone reads my blog.  In my eyes, new can be new to you and me or brand new to to everyone.  Everyone has a point of view to share so discovering a new blog usually means learning something new.

Carissa and I became friends in college through friends we still have in common today.  We ended up in the same study abroad program and she proved to be a true friend when I needed one and a fun, adventurous travel companion.  She can probably do a far better job of a telling a story about a crack of dawn train ride through Austria during which there would be no sleeping in our train car.  I decided to keep her awake blabbing about something on my mind…about which I now have no recollection.

Anyway, Carissa is a talented writer with rich stories to tell about life and her adventures with friends, family and her four fabulous children.  She is a regular writer for the Huffington Post which I feel is incredibly impressive since she is an example of: you never know where a creative venture can take you.  This is just the beginning for her so let’s see where she is in 5 years.   Here is a link to her blog  http://www.carissak.com/ and here is a link to her Huffington Post column http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carissa-k/.  She is officially a published online writer – how cool is that?

That said, with the nomination came questions she asked me to answer:

What inspired you to start blogging?

During most work days, my brother and I are in contact via Google Talk.  I could not really tell you what we chat about but I can say, there were many times when he would say, “You should blog about that.”  I was unsure about the blog thing and he set me up with access to Word Press, told me to start writing, and eventually I did.  Though I was unsure what the theme would be and started out with nothing in terms of a design, I figured my brother would read my blog and one reader is a good start!

How about a round of Rose and Thorn?  What was the best part of your past week, and what was the worst?
The best part of my past week getting off the plane in Atlanta, GA and deciding I would pretend I was on vacation while in there though I was really there for business.  I figured I better make a game of it since I really had no interest in being there.  I started out with a Pinkberry frozen yogurt as I walked to my red VW Jetta rental car.  When I checked in at the hotel (somewhere I had never previously stayed) I was told I received an upgrade to a 900 sq ft luxury suite that was like a high rise apartment.  It was like being on the vacation rather than imagining I was on vacation!  I had a concierge, a living room, dining room and a view of Buckhead and downtown Atlanta.  It was a nice surprise for an otherwise ordinary business trip.  The worst part of me week last week was the end of the movie Gravity – the new Sandra Bullock/George Clooney flick.  The last 2 minutes of the movie were over the top and kind of silly in my opinion.
How is the way you grew up playing a role in your current adventures?
My current adventures are encouraging me to rediscover my creative side.  Up until about the age of 12, I did all things creative and artistic.  I went to yoga while at Montessori School.  I painted, wrote “books”, I  doodled and drew and had drawing pads and coloring books, I loved art class. I learned to bake and to knit.  I used my imagination to pass the time quite often.  Somewhere along the lines, I lost that and I often wonder where I would be today had I kept developing that side of me versus sending the creative me off to hibernation.  My blog and other things have made me rediscover creativity and it is a valuable escape from day to day life.  Who knows how I will use creativity in the future.
What was the last book that you read?
The last book I read is:  The Game of Life and How To Play It by Florence Scovel Shinn.  It was written in 1925.  Someone recommended it to me and found it interesting because the power of positive thinking has been around for a long, long time!
What do you collect?
I seem to be collecting LuLu Lemon workout gear.  If LuLu Lemon had clothing that were appropriate for the corporate environment, I would buy it.  Alas, it is best for the gym and working from  home.
If you could take a cross country road trip, who would you invite to join you and why?
Well, this is a difficult question for me because I can think of several people with whom I would make this trek.  I might stuff my entire family into an RV and see if we make to the the other side of the country without trying to toss one another out of the RV onto the side of the road.  Plus it is something my Dad has always wanted to do and my Mom might protest and would be glad she did in the end.  I might also take 3 of my college friends on a road trip because it would be the closest I could get to all of us living in the same town/city again.  Lastly, my friends who are twin sisters.  We went on a trip together a few years ago and I declared myself a triplet because we had such a great time together.  And we look so much alike – me blonde, blue eyed and they are brunette, brown eyes.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Definitely the caramel sauce drizzled on top of my latte at Starbucks.  I have been known to lick it off the top if it gets stuck on there.  I also like watching Grey’s Anatomy and the Long Island Medium when I want to disconnect my brain from reality.  Also Pinkberry frozen yogurt right next to gate A9 in Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
I am supposed to nominate another blog friend for this award but I do not really have any “blog friends” other than Carissa.  I will share other blogs I read often because with an open mind, you can often learn something from others:
http://nicoleandtheangels.com/blog-2/   A blog written by a very talented spiritual guide to anyone who needs something other than the usual day to day.
http://ohhappyday.com/ a blog inspired by colorful, creative party planning and design ideas and DIY party projects.  Anything called Oh Happy Day is worth reading in my opinion.
http://pinchofyum.com/ a food lover started this blog.  Her photos will make you want to eat pancakes or any other recipe featured.
http://www.sherocksfitnesstx.com/ DIY workouts for a good butt kicking and a down to earth read about food and life in general.  I have learned some good things here.
http://www.yettas.com/ a photo a day by a photographer who I feel produces very good work and also my brother (nevermind any bias) and a member of my personal advisory board.
There are many more blogs I really like and visit often – I suppose going back to the what do I collect question – I collect blogs. Perhaps I need to start a blog roll on this site as many people have very interesting content and perspectives.
Thank you for reading this blog and the blogs of others!

How To Not Be An Adult

What to write. What to write.  That keeps happening to me.  What to write.  I have ideas and nothing seems compelling to me.  In fact, I have started a few things and returned a day later and found what I wrote was less than inspiring to me!  I have a hard time posting something unless I feel it is “right”.  I guess I am having a lot of that right now.  I have been working hard on designing a new project and am finding graphic/creative design is quite challenging.  I think I need to go watch some episodes of The Magic Garden or Reading Rainbow to regenerate the imaginative part of my brain.  It may sound odd but when I was a kid I never ran into any creative blocks and wonder when that started to happen to me.  I used to write and illustrate stories, paint, and draw whenever I had a chance.  I used to doodle on everything and I made cards for people and decorated letters I wrote. When I was younger I spent so much time using my imagination and doing things that were creative outlets – why back then did I lack the cognizance to keep that going?  I even used to read books and then imagine what it would be like to fly or to read minds because I found the stories other people created so interesting.

I had a paper route when I was in elementary school and as I rode around the neighborhood flinging papers, I would occupy my time imagining what it would it be like to create a machine that would produce any food item you wanted.  I delivered papers around dinnertime so my stomach was usually grumbling and I consistently started with orange soda and chocolate mousse as the first creations from this machine (I still live by dessert first, less keen on orange soda).  I remember thinking Future World in Epcot Center was the coolest thing I had ever seen because the futuristic displays were unlike anything I had ever seen.  I even wrote a book about it for my 4th grade class – I have to go dig that up because I know it is in a box somewhere.  It is really interesting to reflect on how I used my brain as a kid and how I use my brain today.  I still love food and I love to read about food and even find cooking to be a very therapeutic activity when my brain needs a rest..from me.  I was thinking I need to be more creative but the creativity is probably already there, it just needs to be unclogged, further.  I say further because I have gotten to a certain point and now I need something new to open up in the pathways of my brain to help my vision for my project and other things to come.

I am sure not all people lose the creative imagination we develop as children, though I wonder how we lose it or stuff it away in a box or drawer of our mind?  It is almost a shame because as I sit here, I wonder how corporate America, the government, education, all the foundational elements of society would be different if everyone had a teaspoon of sparkly stuff or elements of childlike wonder in every day activities.  Mandate: every person must take 10 minutes out of their day to sit in childlike wonder.  Take out your colorful pencils or model trains or look up in the sky.  Perhaps everything would be less serious and also covered in bright colors? Or maybe there would be more amazing, new ideas brought to light.  I have two 1 year old nephews and you can see their wonder in everything they do.  One loves airplanes and when he hears an airplane above, everything stops, and he strains his neck to see it.  It is awesome to watch.  To me, that is chidlike wonder that many of us take for granted.  The other nephew is an explorer, he likes to stand on top of tables and run around because everything is an adventure to him.  I hope from today forward they keep their sense of wonder and adventure as I know I will do my best to encourage it.  When they are my age, my hope is they will have all those creative pathways open in their minds and have ways to use them; unlike their Aunt who is working to find the keys to doors to all those pathways that somehow were shut along the way.

I may go find this book that my Mom had when I was growing up, How To Eat Like a Child.  I never appreciated the irony of it till now, sitting here typing.  It is about revisiting the joys and ploys of childhood.  A guide for adults!  As an aside, I was listening to an NPR interview with Delia Ephron this morning and low and behold this book came to mind just now and she is the author. An odd coincidence. Ok I digress.

Out of the blue I have finally written a blog post that feels right after several attempts in the last few days.  Pathway open though we will see about creative design ideas.

Thank you for reading my blog!

Words of Wisdom - Hand-Cut Silhouette Papercut

Enjoying the Uncomfortable Zone

Overcoming fear is an option at every stage of life.  We are born with two fears: the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises.  Though I lack any scientific or medical training, I would guess people develop fears based on experiences, self talk and perhaps outside influences over the course of a lifetime.  There may be times when fear seems irrational or illogical and times when it makes perfect sense.  There is always a choice to recognize a fear, understand it and work to overcome it; or let it follow you around in life.  I must say there are some fears that come out of the blue and sometimes they are hard to understand.

What started me thinking of fear was a TED Talk I listened to on NPR TED Radio Hour recently.  Roz Savage was the featured speaker, a management consultant turned ocean rower.  As the story was introduced by the announcer, I was compelled to listen because I could relate to the introduction and kept saying, “Whoa how did she do that?”  Of course, as I asked myself that question, the answers were revealed as the talk unfolded.  

As I listened, I wondered how many people can relate to how Roz Savage ended up as an ocean rower; how she ended up doing something outside the original “plan”.  How many of us follow a path because we feel we should or it is what we are supposed to do.  Rules created based on a story we make up about ourselves.  Ms. Savage took a management consulting career path because that was the thing to do.  It made her question what she was doing with her life and her purpose in life.  She wanted adventure and questioned whether she fit the “mold” of an adventurer.  She sat down and wrote two versions of her own obituary – the now and the what if versions – and realized the life she was heading for was not what she wanted.  She wanted a life she could be proud of and knew she needed to change her course.  She realized she needed to create her happiness rather than wait for it to come to her.  Ms. Savage ultimately broke out of her comfort zone and took a massive leap of faith and started rowing.  Her story about how to overcome fear is fascinating to me.  What DO you do when you are alone, in a boat, in the middle of the ocean?  You figure it out with what you have at hand.

We all end up standing in the middle of the proverbial ocean at some point in our lives and we have choices to overcome fear or to let it take over.  When you are questioning things, when do you take a leap of faith outside your comfort zone?  Taking a leap of faith can be intimidating so how do you work through your fear or discomfort to get what you want?  What tools do you use to move forward? Who do you reach out to if you need help?  Roz Savage was primarily alone, however, when her water purifier broke during a trip on the Pacific, she was able to “phone a friend” using her satellite phone.  She found fellow ocean travelers to meet up with to trade fresh water for food.  I suppose taking a leap of faith means we have to believe we have what we need and if we need something else, we will find it or it will be brought to us.  I suppose once you take the initial leap of faith, you learn how to solve problems in new ways rather than letting fear hold you back.  A leap of faith becomes a walk in the park with obstacles and challenges along the way.

What are you questioning today?  Are you wondering about your purpose?  Are you standing in the middle of the ocean?  Roz Savage was in a position like mine at some point and her story reminded me I can do something different and as can most of us.   I know I am trying to approach things differently. When I think I have done the right things, I can always reflect on things I can do better next time. I would say leaving your comfort zone is extremely uncomfortable; but once you have left it, you realize you had nothing to fear.

Choose Your Team Wisely

If you were starting a new business, who would you discuss it with?  I believe anyone embarking on a new venture needs moral support and someone to help them along when they lose faith in the opportunity at hand; even more so when a person feels like they have lost it for feeling so passionate or believing in something that requires planning and effort.  The belief in the unknown can be intimidating while passion is very motivating.  It is such a human thing to believe you are on the right path  and a day later feel as those you have lost your mind or become enveloped in self doubt.

Who believes in you?  My question is intended to generate constructive thought and “no one” is an unacceptable answer.  Who in your life stands by you and believes in who you are and what you can do?  When I believe in someone I can believe in their ideas and what they wish to accomplish.  I have no explanation as to why those two things go hand in hand.  If I believe in you, I can support you and if it appears you need to rethink something I will share that with you.  I can think of many friends who have business ideas either in progress, on the radar, or in their heads.  I find it most interesting how contagious a person’s passion can be for something they believe in.  Passion is contagious and it has taught me that every person needs their own cheerleader or coach or a phantom teammate.  Someone who will listen to ideas or provide encouragement or help one see the forest from the trees.  A silent teammate is what it feels like to me.  I am on your team while you lead the way and see things through. I am on the bench waiting to help out when called upon.  I definitely play this role for some of my friends.  One of my friends is working on two different business plans.  A rodeo comes to mind when I think of all she is trying to do.  She has a lot coming at her.  When she falls off the bucking bronco someone knocks her off the horse, I run into the ring, put her back on the horse and tell her to hold tight because she is doing exactly what she is meant to do.  I even pitch in sometimes with her business plan.  Now and then I get a message for help with ideas so I run back into the ring and I jump on the horse to help her redirect for a just a short while and run back to my seat on the bench. I have no idea why I am using a rodeo metaphor.  This person neither rides horses nor lives anywhere near a rodeo but it just seemed apropos as I wrote.

I feel anyone starting a venture of any kind needs someone to help keep them on track.  Sometimes we are so deep in the weeds, a reality check is helpful as the human mind can take us to negative places and create stress, worry and discouraging thoughts. The skeptics can weigh and derail goals and ideas which can be discouraging – that is why you need to look to your team.  Everyone needs a team to surround them whether it is a team of 1 or many, it is an important part of any venture.  We all need someone to help us to get back in the saddle and remove the blinders of doubt to refocus on what needs to be accomplished to reach goals and dreams.  Nothing is every easy and the people you choose as your team can make a world of difference when it comes to encouragement and moral support.

Starting Something New?!

How do you go about doing something about which you know very little?  Starting something new can be a daunting task.  How do I start? What do I do?  When do I do it?  I have been talking to various people I know about their jobs.  It is amazing how many dissatisfied people exist in Corporate America.  I would hardly say any stories I have heard are reflective of disgruntled employees; in fact, what I have heard are stories of exhaustion, stress and loss of motivation due to industry dynamics, corporate culture, layoffs and lack of resources.  Do more with less plagues most companies I would guess and I believe more often than not, executive management teams acts clueless, disinterested or in denial of how their decisions impact the people who truly support the business and a company’s customer base.

I was sitting next to a man in the airport this week and was eavesdropping on his telephone conversation.  Admittedly, I often eavesdrop as it amazes me how many people have public conversations with little awareness of who may be listening.  This man was talking about what it is like to be in sales for his company, a large cosmetics company, and how the culture has deteriorated and how invaluable his executive team makes the employee base feel.  He talked about a job interview earlier that day with a large pharmaceutical company and during the interview, the interviewer questioned his priorities.  When he said his wife and child were his the main priorities in his life, the interviewer told him that would be a problem in the sales job for which he was interviewing.  This man had to defend why his family matters to him and could not understand why anyone would question him.  I think he might be making mistake if he takes that job, if he is offered the job.  It is amazing what you can learn by eavesdropping and it is interesting to find similarities amongst strangers, friends, co-workers, acquaintances.  Most have feedback as relates to company expectations, attitude of management, pay grades, product performance and quality of life.  I will say there are some outliers as I have heard great things about a well known technology company, for example; though I am beginning to believe “good places” to work are becoming the outlier.  How many people wake up excited to go to work versus full of dread and stress?

 When I talk to someone about their experience and feelings about how their job, it is interesting to hear what a person would rather be doing. I have a friend who would like to work at Walmart rather than in his sales job.  I have another friend who would rather make donuts all day than go to the office.  It seems the rusty, sinking cruise ship that is the majority of Corporate America is struggling to understand what keeps employees happy and what matters to employees.  The outliers have it right yet the rest of Corporate America seems to be unwilling to flex.

 So what to do?  Every since the whole “we are in a Recession” period, the idea of small business elevating the economy has resonated with me.  Personally, I enjoy helping someone brainstorm what else they can do to earn money independently versus working for a large corporation. I find it fascinating to hear one’s ideas and interesting to help formulate a plan towards making ideas a reality. I realize not everyone can start a business and some people are happy as nurses or teachers or butchers or lawyers.  However, I believe there are many people out there who have something to offer the world of small business and consumers and hold back for reasons related to fear of failure, finances, change, and experience.

In conversations with people, I often find myself saying “Wow you would be really successful doing this or that as your own business.”  I have a friend who has an amazing eye for interior design.  She is on the Corporate Fast Track in her global company and is finally getting burnt out.  For years, I have believed when she gets sick of being uber successful in Corporate America, she will start her own business and have fun building a successful venture.  My friend recently bought a house to flip for fun and I have asked her to start a blog so others can see how she works and what amazing taste she has in color, fabric, and design.  I really believe this could be the start of a brand new direction for her and really look forward to seeing where she is in 5 years.

 Perhaps it time for many of us to take step back and really evaluate what we are doing with our time.  Understandably paychecks help us put food on the table and a roof over our heads.  However, how many people out there do something in their free time that may be a lucrative business opportunity? Would you like to do something you enjoy, something you can do daily and not feel like it is a grind to get through the day?  I have been thinking about how to help people I meet turn something enjoyable into something profitable.  Start your own business and see the business differently.  Lay down the ground work, start with a few steps, take a leap of faith.  Perhaps the best way to improve Corporate America is to find a new direction entirely.


Brain Matters

What do you do to totally shift gears?  Everyone has something they enjoy doing outside the daily or regular routine.  It may be something forgotten or left behind from years ago. How many times have you given thought to things you once enjoyed and would like to pick up again? I tend to be heavily left brained (logical, analytical) and as a result hardly ever give my brain a rest.  I have spent many years ignoring the right brained me thus ignoring my creative, intuitive side. My right brain ruled when I was much younger and at some point my analytical (or pragmatic) side took over.  It is effortless to lean on my creative, intuitive side yet it seems impractical in my daily life and at work.

When I meet people I always wonder what they enjoy doing that is unrelated to work, finances, and the responsibilities of daily life. I believe everyone has a creative side and it is either pushed aside by everything else in life; or it is alive and well.  If pushed aside, your creative side can be resurrected.  It is just a matter of recognizing what gives you relief from the things that tax your brain or are a source of stress.  I find cooking and baking to be therapeutic.  I forget everything else on my mind when I am focused on something I am making in the kitchen. There was a point in time when my current job was numbing my brain.  I felt like I needed to do something in my spare time that was completely different. I enjoy foreign languages and pick them up much faster than, say, a spreadsheet full of numbers and formulas. I started taking Spanish classes for fun which turned out to be a great way to shift gears after work. It is was almost a relief to open a Spanish workbook to learn to conjugate verbs after a day pouring over pricing and budget numbers.  I also enjoy painting with watercolors.  A friend of mine knew I was keeping a somewhat artistic side under wraps and encouraged me to paint around this time last summer. I had not touched a paintbrush in many years; but when I sat down with new brushes and my block of paper, it felt really good. Though I have nothing on Matisse, Klimt or Van Gogh, I do what comes naturally to me.  I put my paints and brushes away months ago and it is about time to take them out again.

Perhaps it is a balancing act.  How do we balance what comes naturally with what requires more effort and persistence?  How do we give ourselves a break?  On some level it is an art form, I suppose, in staying focused on what needs to get done and what you enjoy.  I work with someone in my sales group who is very buttoned up and very data inclined; yet on the weekends sings in a heavy metal cover band.  I would have never guessed this person is musically inclined, much less covering Metallica’s greatest hits. As I think about it, it is probably better for one’s health and well being to unleash that creative side to really exercise the brain. It is really a great way to detach from the day to day. On the flip side, maybe a professional artist needs a few hours a day of crunching numbers?  In my mind, it would be ideal to leverage both the left and the right brain at work or in life in general.  It seems healthy – like a good workout at the gym.  Tap into the analytical side and the intuitive or creative side and see what happens instead of overusing one or stifling the other.  

What’s the Plan?

poHave you ever been in or near your kitchen and suddenly you become acutely aware of your refrigerator humming in the background? It is the kind of thing that is always there but unless you are tuned in it goes unnoticed?  This is how my brain has been operating as relates to the ever popular question of ‘What do I want to do with my life’ – specifically around work. I have had an idea buzzing in back of my head for quite some time.  It is always there and I think about it a few times per day. It fades and it resurfaces based on things I read or something I hear….or during a conference call when I wonder if anyone actually cares about what is being discussed.

The mind works in funny ways.  When I think about what I can do or where I see myself going, I come to a point of feeling unsure or uncertain about the steps I need to take or what I need to lay out for myself.  I suppose I know what I need (a plan); yet I have trouble putting one together for myself.  I feel a traditional or formal business plan would not suit me.  I need something unique and always feel like there is something that I have yet to nail down for myself. I may also be over-thinking.  The irony of this is the time I have spent time working with other people on their new business ideas or other types of ideas. It is something I enjoy doing in my spare time.  In the end, the feedback is always, ‘You should do this as a business.’

Why is it so hard to do something for myself when helping someone else comes naturally?  Once someone shares an idea with me, it is like a switch goes off and ideas or next steps or questions come to mind.  I can envision and layout what is needed to move certain elements forward.  It is more of an intuitive thing I suppose.  I just intuitively know what is needed depending on the situation or the need.  If I believe in the person, their motivation and what they are trying to accomplish, information just comes to me.  With that said, when a person carries a passion for what they do or for what they want to do, it is obvious and it is rewarding to see someone succeed or make progress.

When you are on your own or working with an idea, sometimes figuring out a plan can be challenging. What steps to take, what to do, oh and have I lost my mind?  Self doubt is so typical and so human.  It is funny when a friend encourages me or acknowledges my potential.  It is hard to dispute the feedback of someone who knows me and what I can do.  I met someone recently who said, “This is what I see you doing.  What is your plan for this and that and the other thing.”   Waving a magic wand seems a bit outlandish.  I probably have to figure out how to get out of my own way and start to really work it out.