Just begin.

I don’t consider myself a very organized or particularly talented individual. Yet I’ve been asked several times (to my genuine surprise) how I “get so much done”. And while I would love to take this as a compliment, it certainly wouldn’t be true to tell you that I “can do it all”. It almost seems laughable to write that, because it blows my mind that people would get the notion of something so removed from my reality.

So this is all I have to say on the subject: Just begin.

Whatever it is that you want to do, just start it. You don’t have to announce it to the world. You don’t even have to finish it. You just need to freaking start it. Right now. Stop reading this blog post this very minute and take 5 minutes towards what you want to do.

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Now, for all of you who are still reading, I understand this is not an epiphany. But sometimes you just need to hear it. Someone had to tell me to “just begin” to get my bum into action, and now I hope that I can be that person for you.

Things you need to know about beginning (that you probably already know):

1. It’s painful. The first 5 minutes of forward moving are so scary. You’ll let all those demons in your head give you all the excuses in the world not to just make ONE step. But you can pick one finger (of your choice) to raise to those thoughts and just start. 5 minutes people. FIVE. And then the worst part is done.

2. Brainstorming is not ‘doing’. Jotting down notes and scribbling potential futures is amazing. Powerful and amazing. But they aren’t “doing”. They aren’t action– they are ideas. You could be reading this with a notebook of insanely genius post it notes, and I still won’t know unless you did something with them.

3. Focus. Just because you have something you want to do doesn’t mean it’s a priority. We only have so many hours in our day. (Unless you’re Beyonce. She just HAS to have found a glitch in the revolving of the globe and squeezed more hours into her day some how.) So pick something that you know you want to have done in your life- professionally or personally. I’ve been pretty inspired by some street dancers- but it would only take about 5 minutes of ‘starting’ to realize… well… just pick the important actions.

4. Just don’t get too tied up in options that you do nothing. Sometimes you just need to fire. I can often think up so many different things I’d love to do that I spend all my time trying to sort through options. Or I become so overwhelmed that I do nothing and go watch netflix instead.

So sometimes you just have to pick an idea and go for it.

5. On that note- Stop watching Netflix. Or whatever you do to try to escape from the weight of your dreams. Maybe you sleep too much. Or go out to a bar. Or scan Instagram until your eyes burn out. You are wasting valuable time to actually put something out in the world. Use. Your. Talents.

* I feel like I am being a bit vague, so let me pair down a bit.

While this is a fairly unexciting example, it is something current. Today, my planner was busting with scribbles of things I wanted to do today from designing new business cards to writing this blog. There were about 20 non- paid items that I wanted to accomplish today and the sheer mass of ideas almost had me deciding it was time to take a nap instead of doing anything at all. But I told myself to just pick one and BEGIN. My blog has been on my mind for a while- wondering what I should write about. And something as simple as cranking out blog content can seem overwhelming when faced with so many to-dos. So I told myself I would just blog for 5 minutes. If I didn’t want to continue after that, I didn’t have to.

Well, here we are.

And, DUH. There are tons of people who accomplish WORLDS more than I do, but I am always thankful for when people share their tips and tricks to me, and so it’s only right to pass them on to you.

So, whether it’s something as small as responding to an email or as big as writing a book- just give yourself 5 minutes to start.

You’ll accomplish a whole lot more than you thought you could.

XO,

Ken

P.S. I would love to hear your advice on what you do that helps you make inspiration into action. Please comment and help out myself and the rest of the reader community!

You guys rock.

 

 

 

 

When you decide to be an artist.

Well. I promise I’m still alive, I’ve just been under a pile of projects and I have been exhausted in the best type of way. I’ve been in New Orleans doing interior design for an upscale boutique. It was so much fun being able to really get my hands dirty and do everything I love at once: paint, design, photograph and eat. And boy did I eat. I won’t even start on that subject, because I won’t be able to stop gushing about the things you can consume in Nola.

The woman that owns the store graciously allowed me to stay in her guest home- a small cottage hidden behind her beautiful victorian home. It was previously a carriage house back in 1822 with all of it’s original wood and flooring. I was over the moon about it with it’s simple white washed walls and worn in bones that held 200 years of history.

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Something I love about Nola is it’s sense of community. The stores open later in the morning and everyone walks to cafes with their close friends and dogs. Every morning, the sunlight would pour into the carriage house- waking me up without an alarm clock at 7am, and by 7:30, Dianna and I were walking to a local breakfast stop, with her french bulldog Poppy in tow, for coffee by the gallon and a pastry. People would come up and talk to me like I was a long lost friend- asking about my life and giving me advice about my upcoming trip to Europe. This was so refreshing (and a bit shocking, honestly) compared to the typical awkward smiles from strangers followed by them avoiding eye contact by scanning their instagram feed.  On the first day, I thought we might have just happened to stumble upon a few friendly people by chance, but as the days went on, it really was that the majority of people were asking “how are you” without wanting to hear an unauthentic “great!!” in return.

Dianna requested that I create a holiday display for the store that wasn’t your typical Christmas decorations. So I decided to make the entrance of the store into a wintery snow land that embraced the season while still bringing the focus to the furniture. I really wanted the customers to have an interactive element to get engaged into the display and leave with a positive emotional tie to the store. So I decided to make a “wishing tree” where costumers could write down something they wish for or want to do before they die and hang it on the tree.

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I painted a huge branch (quite a bit more messy and used far more paint that I expected) and suspended it from the ceiling so that the stories would hang over you as you shopped. Within a few days, the tree was full of beautiful wishes from one wishing that she would write a novel about her humorous dating relationships to someone wishing that they might live without abandon this year. As a lover of stories, I would check it over and over to see if there were new ornaments to read.

On one of the last days I was there, Clint was released a week early from his rig due to bad weather and was driven to New Orleans to fly out from the airport there. So he was able to come surprise me and see the store, grab some local food and stay in the carriage house with me for the night before flying out the next day. I thought it was so fun that we both happened to be there at the same time and were able to meet up.

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Other nights, Dianna showed me the dangerous addiction that is Nola food, go to an art gallery show and meet some new amazing faces. I couldn’t have asked for a better week.

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And honestly, I am still in complete awe that I have been given the opportunity to get paid to use my passion for design. I remember a few years ago being so reluctant to completely submerge myself in the creative world. I hoped business school would stomp it right out of me and I could have a career in something “normal” or made people “proud”. And honestly, I was pretty scared. Putting your art out to the world is so extremely vulnerable and exposes a part of your soul. What if people think it’s weird or I flop right on my face and into a big fat puddle of acrylic paint? What if people don’t get what I do? (Spoiler: they don’t.) As the years passed, I found the only things that made me feel truly alive were those design projects that I would do in the safe secrecy of my own home.

And then I dropped the bomb. “Oh hi parents. You know all those business classes I’ve been taking for the last couple of years? Soooo.. funny thing is… I think I want to be an artist. Oh. And move to Austin. Oh…and one more tiny detail..funny I almost forgot..I’m get married.” And of course, in my subtle and mature manner, this was sent in a text message. “GOIN TO B AN ARTIST! LUV U LOTZ!”

So then there were those years in between where I struggled to find out what being a designer even means and where I fit into that equation. And then those art classes that made me feel like a failure as [TRUE STORY] my teacher picked up my art work and threw it on the ground saying “if I wanted something cute, I would have gone to F*&#KING HALLMARK”. Well tell me how you really feel.

And then that time I was hired as an office assistant as, what I’m sure was, a pity hire because I was newly married with both Clint and I in college in a brand new city and didn’t have 2 dimes to rub together. And then she happened to see something I was designing on my computer and asked if I wanted to apply for the position of a graphic designer for the firm. Of course! The only minor problem was, I didn’t know a thing about graphic design. Like- I didn’t even own photoshop. I used the free version on the school computers. So, I faked it until I made it. I would go home and spend hours teaching myself design from youtube videos and books. I studied every designer I could find and tore out pages of magazines to try and reduplicate them myself. Then I would go to work and design. And then I would go home and work on it for hours without pay to make sure it was perfect. And I found out that I liked graphic design. A whole lot. And the clients kept coming back. And we got paid and got to use the heater! BOO YA. And so began design. Finally I had found my place. I wasn’t an artist I was a designer. And you can imagine my relief. I can’t hardly draw a stick figure and was in art classes with teachers who were surely quite fearful for my creative future. But DESIGN?! I could actually do this. And love it.

From that time on, I found my place in interior design and graphic design as my happy and alive place. And I have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams by people who took a chance on me and allowed me to try and make their companies more beautiful. Since then, I have had the pleasure of working with people ranging from small homegrown companies all the way to designing for Free People/Anthropologie. And most of those opportunities came from really putting myself out there in an uncomfortable way, hoping that I might have something to offer them.

And yes, I still have the people who think “I don’t have a job” *palm to forehead* or don’t understand what I do, but I am now doing exactly what I feel God wired me to do. And there are still those days I wish I didn’t have this unquenchable desire to completely redesign everything or have to resist the urge to reposition the furniture in someone’s home, but I am so completely happy and fulfilled by what I’m doing and all the projects I am taking on.

And through my crazy and sometimes awful (my resume being all the grey hairs on Clint’s head he’s sprouted during the last 3 years) journey, I have learned that you have to make the leap. You HAVE to. And people are going to think you’re weird and you’re going to feel insecure and want to leap back to the safe monotonous side of life, but it’s so worth it. Because the world has a way of embracing and changing for a person who is brave enough to grow up to be themselves. So leap! And then write me a letter and tell me all about it.
XO, K.

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things that inspire.

There were so many times I wanted to sit myself down and write this post, but I have had so much buzzing in my head lately, I didn’t know how to lock down a single idea to talk about, but 18 days is far too long to have been off the blogging radar, and so here I am. I am also at a hotel sin motor vehicle and prematurely boasted to Clint about how much writing and blogging I could get caught up on, and I’ll be damned if he comes back from working all day and all I have to show for is a rerun of a Tom Hanks movie and a change of yoga pants. And I only said a change of yoga pants to act like I’m civilized. We all know I’m in the same yoga pants.

So, I have been jotting down ideas of what to write about, and I found that everything kind of horseshoes back to what has been inspiring me. So instead of spilling on about my recent life, I’m going to tell you a little about what has been keeping me up at night. And hopefully something will inspire you too.

1. INSTA CREATIVES.

Okay. I will shamelessly admit that I am borderline obsessed with the instagrams of a few very creative individuals… that I have never even met. Yes. It’s really weird, but I seek them out. I try to find these artsy little fireballs out in the virtual world and find great inspiration from their lifestyle and art that they share in little 3″x3″ squares. I find this form of virtual community, if utilized correctly, an instant library of ideas and advice. And unlike Pinterest’s unrealistic push for perfection, these ladies and gentlemen on Instagram are just posting about their day to day adventures from a camera phone, helping me understand that no one’s life is truly that much more fabulous than anyone else’s. It’s just actively finding beauty where you are. And no matter what your life looks like- there is inspiration all around you.

Here are the 10 most recent that I have been following:

@jennyhighsmith //graphic design and fashion

@taylorflower //rustic and simple, aspiring wedding designer

@chelseapetaja //paper goods and traveling

@bleubird //vintage inspiration and creative mother

@dalepartridge //CEO of Sevenly (next on my list of inspirations) and beautiful typography

@haleykjar //simple, authentic living and creative mommy

@stephsterjovski //beautiful prints and fashion inspiration

@thedoorsofnewyork //beautifully crafted entrances across NYC

@meaganhilde //gorgeous photos of simple life and traveling

@lucyspartalis //wedding photographer

2. SEVENLY.

I stumbled upon Sevenly.org while in my recent search or some well designed typography tees. Not only did this website fit the bill, the website’s cause was so inspiring to me.  I often brainstorm about how my creative skills could best.. in short… change the world. Because, while that might be a bold claim, I truly want to embrace this life and make as many huge changes as I can. Not just observe it passing me by. And sometimes I wonder how that’s possible as an artist. Sevenly showed me how something as simple as good design can make a huge impact in the lives of others all over the world. This website adopts a different cause every week, and the Sevenly team of artists create T-shirts, posters, and jewelry that represent the need. This merchandise raises money for the cause while also producing walking billboards for change. This idea has exploded, helping raise almost all the needed funds every single week. And you get a T-shirt that you actually feel really cool wearing. Witnessing someone use their talents to make a difference in the world is something worth living for. And I hope I can find a way to use mine.

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3. A SOUL COMING TO LIFE.

This is a phrase that my dear friend, Bri, wrote me in a letter from Switzerland lately. (You can find her lovely blog here.) She said, “Oh Kendall, my soul has come alive!” as she described her travels across Europe this summer, helping with Young Life. Her letter and picture of where she was staying meant so much to me that I hung it up by my desk to remember to pray for her journey as well as remind myself that the whole world is out there to conquer. She recently returned from her trip and called me today. We spent over an hour on the phone as I begged her to tell me everything. She was simply gushing over her experiences abroad. She spoke of the freedom she felt and the way she not only experienced a different culture, but got to meet a different part of her own self. I could almost touch her excitement over the phone. And it reminded me of how I felt with my trip to the Philippines and how aware and alive I felt. Bri went on to tell me what I believe to be true: You must do the things that make you feel alive. That these things usually come with huge risk and sacrifice, but they are available to everyone. It may not be traveling out of the country. It is attempting to conquer the thing that you believe to be impossible. And whether you succeed or fail isn’t what matters. It is that you are fighting death and fear and… sometimes even worse… mediocrity.

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In other news, I am starting a new blog segment called “Women Crush Wednesday” that highlights different women of different walks of life that inspire me. My first interview will be posted this.. you guessed it.. Wednesday. Stay tuned.

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XO, K.

when a girl has some questions.

I get straight giddy over interior design. It is a field that I am actively attempting to understand. It intrigues me because learning design is like getting to know someone. You have to feel it out and learn the quirks and traits that make it come together. There is no formula you can learn that “works”, like math or science. You have train your eyes and season your gut. As a lover of good design, well crafted furniture and small shops, I have been seeking out designers and shop owners in Houston to get some insight on their take of aesthetics.

Over the last week, I have gone to several different antique/interior design shops and spoken to their owners and designers about what it is that drove them to get their own creative space, what inspires them, and what the steps are to becoming a well known designer. Most of the men and women who worked in these places were very generous with their time and knowledge- excited to have found someone who was interested in their craft. I was thankful for this, as all I did was waltz in, slinging my Nikon around my neck, and request a meeting.

The shops were so inspiring to me. I wish I could pretend that I was cool about the whole thing, but I was almost keeled over with butterflies that these designers were taking the time to talk to me and letting me photograph.


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DSC_0529One of the shops I went to even produces it’s own magazine with history of furniture and design from around the world. They let me have a copy and that occupied my afternoon as I was coming down from my interior design high.

Other exciting ideas are coming in the works soon and I can hardly wait to share.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week, and thanks for stopping by!

xoxo, k.