When Women gather

Can I share my reflections from this past Thursday evening and the magic that happens when four friends gather?

It’s been since early February that the four of us have been together. Our last outing was one filled with joyful celebration, poignant aha moments and those deep, rich conversations that fill you to the brim with gratitude for the connection we have with each other.

After every gathering, I inevitably find myself reflecting on lessons learned. In the simplest terms, we are mirrors for one another in the most spectacular ways.

From four, we have broken into natural duos offering daily, sometimes hourly, support to one another—ying to each other’s yang.

I’m not sure I can pinpoint the exact magic that happens when we all get together, but I will attempt to explain some of my thoughts & feelings.

I’ll start by saying this….these have been, by far, the most profound female relationship I have ever had. All emotions have a place; all voices have value. It’s often raw & vulnerable and downright bruitiful.

The best way I can think to describe it is for you to think of a roller coaster ride. (PS-NOT a fan here). Think of the sensation you feel rising higher and higher, climbing up and reaching for the sky all the while knowing you’re going to crest. Then the bottom will inevitably drop out, followed closely by a rush of adrenaline as you hurtle downwards. You have a choice to either be scared shitless of the descent and let fear rule OR you can embrace the ride – trusting you are held on the way down.

Can you feel that contrast? That is the gamut of emotions I feel when I’m with these women.

I find myself in awe, watching them reach higher and higher in their respective careers, paving pathways not only for themselves but also for others to follow.

It makes me proud to know them but being the reflective person I am; I inevitably start to look inward. That critical voice in my head starts with, “Why aren’t you where they are?? Why don’t you dream as large as they do?”

Have you heard that voice before?

I start to spin. It almost always results in the bottom falling out from under me & the downward spiral into negatively begins in my mind. Intense feelings of shame, being wholly inept and vastly out of my depth work at taking hold.

But here’s the beauty I’ve discovered.

I trust these women enough to say, “Hey, this is what’s happening in my brain right now,” and they listen. They don’t tell me, “That’s stupid!” They give me time to process how I’m feeling. THEN they encourage me to find those edgy spaces where I can dig a little deeper, question my own beliefs and grow right alongside them.

We don’t leave each other behind.

These women want me to succeed as much as I want them to succeed. They know we are all on our trajectories, and we can get there with greater ease and enjoyment when we support each other.

Now, this isn’t to say that I love finding those lovely edges. Hell no. Are there times I want to yell “Fuck off” because someone’s touched a tender spot? Hell ya. (I think I almost did once or twice Thursday.)

One of those tender spots has been my behaviours around understanding what healthy relationships with other women look like.

Like most, I have a fair amount of trauma when it comes to relationships with other women. I grew up in a small town where you were either in a cliche and had friends or were out. The movie Mean Girls fits my school life almost to a T.

I was excluded from groups, witnessed others talking behind my back, girls withheld friendship when feelings were hurt and the big one for me, gaining my trust and confidence and then using any information they gathered against me for leverage or embarrassment later.

What being with these women has taught me is that there is another way.

I can be honest and messy without fear. I can make a mistake but still be worth friendship and support. Being with these women has taught me that I am a better person when I can surround myself with those who push the edges of my comfort zone. Where I’m encouraged to lean in, believe in myself, and trust in their friendship.

I know for sure we are each a work in progress, but my most extensive growth areas have started at these edges.

So here’s my invitation to you.

Make it a priority to seek out women who provide this for you. Women who hold you accountable. Women who cheer for your success repeatedly. Women who show up in ways you’ve never quite imagined possible.

It may take time but trust me, it is worth it.

Designing differently

With the popularity of tiny homes and a greater focus on minimalism and the accompanying lifestyle, estate homes seem to be getting the cold shoulder.

Why is that?

In my opinion, society has started to equate a specific number of square feet as an acceptable “normal” size for a home with total disregard for the needs of the people living there.

Not cool.

When you hear of someone talking about a 4000 square foot home, what is your first reaction?

Be honest.

You may catch yourself saying “Why does anyone need that much space?” or “That’s huge!”

When I first started designing homes (20+ years ago), I thought like this.

Instant judgements surfaced about the person building that home.

Who they were.
What they valued.
How they acted.

This judgement was based solely on the square footage with no other information about that individual.

Again, not cool.

For the past eight years, my design work has focused on collaborating with builders to create high-end custom homes.

My approach now is to weigh the values of each client with equal importance to the spaces. We create a list of rooms and talk about functionality, all while leaning into understanding their unique set of values.

In my experience, three values remain consistent between designs.

Individuality.
Connection.
Well-being.

Clients do not want a one size fits all approach. From the exterior to the interior, every aspect of the design needs to showcase their individuality. The spaces need to reflect the unique needs and desires of those who live there.

I believe connection is a fundamental human need. We all crave those moments where we can connect with others in meaningful ways. That looks different for every family, but often gatherings for 10-20 people is not an unusual request, and for that, you need to give thought to the space that requires.

Many of my clients work in high-stress occupations: doctors, lawyers, business owners. To function at their best, they need to take care of their well-being. Again, there are several ways to accomplish this, but common spaces like gyms, home offices, spa-like bathrooms are all a part of the equation.

My point is this – a home can fit the needs of each family in a variety of ways.

My needs are not yours and vice versa.

A small home shouldn’t be celebrated just because it is small, neither should a larger home be vilified because of its size.

We all deserve to take up the space we need to live our best lives.

Published articles and the lessons I learned

A close friend has been suggesting (or rather insisting) that I put up the links to the writing I completing for Saskatoon Home in 2018. You see, I can be very humble at times and don’t like to draw attention to myself. She quickly, and lovingly reminded me that I should celebrate this accomplishment so I made a promise I would post the links. I keep my promises.

The three links below will take you to the articles I wrote in each quarterly edition.

 

Saskatoon Home Fall 2018 Article – A Home Reborn

Saskatoon Home Summer 2018 Article – Thoughtful Mind and Garden

Saskatoon Home Spring 2018 Article – Redefining Minimalism

 

Looking back, I’d say there were some lessons learned in this past year.

1. Ask for what you want more of. In my case, I wanted to write for a magazine and in 2017 I finally mustered up the courage to ask Saskatoon Home if they would take a shot on a relatively unknown writer. Since then, I’ve discovered that I am very skilled at connecting with people and bringing life to their stories. A skill I’m incredibly proud of.

2. Don’t let perfectionism get in the way. We’ve all had those moments where we don’t put something into the world for fear of how it may be received. I can say this last year has helped me work through this hurdle. Am I the best writer ever? No, I still struggle with grammar at times. Do I need to be? Hell No. I simply need to keep working on this creative expression and improve my abilities as a writer, something this opportunity has given me in spades.

I want to say “Thank You” to Amanda Soulodre & Karin Melberg Schwier for their incredible support and guidance this past year. I am looking forward to what content we can create for the magazine in the new year!

 

 

Freedom to Choose

I’m sure we are all feeling the same way.

Schools back in session. Activities have commenced. Schedule has gone haywire. Your “to do” list replenishes itself daily.

As women who are running businesses while also keeping a household running we live in constant search of the illusive holy grail…work/life balance. We slip into comparison with other women, “I’d sure like to be where she’s at, she’s got it all together” or we entertain thoughts of judgement like “She’s just crazy!”.

I’m going to share something with you that took a huge weight of my shoulders and has kept me out of thoughts of comparison and judgement with other Mom’s…

I hold the power to define what work/life balance looks/feels like for me. 

For our family, I look at it more as finding a harmony between work and life. They blend together to create my life, one doesn’t necessarily stop before the other begins. Over the past 9 years of BMD I have not always remembered this fact & honestly, it has been just recently that I have really come to terms with this thought. So how did I get there? I think it could be narrowed down to Two perspectives.(and they both just happen to be Danielle LaPorte Truthbombs-go figure!).

One…Respect your wishes.

I am a recovering overachiever. I am a person who runs a business that is based on service. If I don’t work I don’t get paid. The question was, how much work is right for me? Not what needed to be done or others wanted done… that list is never ending and often doesn’t have a single item on it for ourselves. I decided, for me, I needed to set boundaries with myself on work hours. In a world where productivity & being busy is the measure we all use this was the hardest step for me. Setting times where I am and am not available seemed almost counter intuitive to the type of business I have. In the end, keeping these hours has proved to be critical to my own self care and self worth. The moment I realized that I didn’t want to be tired and detached from my life was the tipping point to setting my life around what was of greatest importance. Setting dedicated work hours has afforded me the flexibility to be where I need to be, when I need to be.

Two…Go where the love is.

Sounds a little woo woo or touchy feely right? Well, let me show you my practical interpretation. I love my business and I love my family but over the past few years(and past 6 months in particular) I realized I was leaving myself out of that equation. Where was the time for me? I know that my personality is such that I can’t be a Mom, CEO or Wife 24 hours a day(and NO this is not blasphemy) without finding some time in there for myself.  So I came up with a plan… Each week I would sit down and outline priorities for the following week. Not just a laundry list of “to-do’s” but a list that had work, family as well as mind/body/soul, chances for my creativity to come out and play. I also built the flexibility into the mix. What do I have the ambition to do right now? What am I in the headspace for at this moment? Then, and here is the woo woo, I listen to my gut. Yes I have items that need attention, every business has them, but there is a huge difference between urgent and priority and only you can define those for yourself.

I’ve always believed that living my life to work wasn’t my goal when I started BMD. I work every week to bring harmony into our family life, it’s not easy and often is a moving target but as a friend has often pointed out, we wouldn’t want it any other way.

Ultimately you hold the freedom to choose what is right for your life. I invite you to comment below and share with me any tips you have in designing your weeks? Let’s get a conversation going ladies!