AN OPEN NOTE:: SELF CARE, SELF LOVE, MENTAL HEALTH, STRUGGLES + HAPPINESS

MAKING YOURSELF A PRIORITY

Lately, I have been giving a lot of time and thought to self care, love, mental health and happiness. So much, that I am really just compelled to write about it here. This is a bit of a stray from our usual happy and beautiful design centric entries - but I think that's quite okay, this is real life. I believe in authenticity and a certain level of brutal honesty, in my opinion, it all ties together in the end. 

With the recent news of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain ending their lives and also someone I knew on a personal level, it really shook me in an unexpected way. I obviously am not friends with either of these talented celebrities, but in the strangest of ways - I almost understood. It's been said that Kate Spade didn't seek out help, because she is afraid of what it would do to the image of her brand. The image of her brand. How have we created a world that at some point we feel our brand is more important than our wellbeing, our lives, our families and our friends? 

And then, oddly enough, I get it. She created this brand, that was so happy, cheerful, colorful and lively. I mean, she even has a perfume called "Live Colorfully" which I love, and until recently just found out it gives Kristin a headache. Oops, sorry, Kristin.

My first designer bag was a Kate Spade, man, I was proud of it. I still have it. It was my first purchase as a "career woman". When I graduated college, a mentor of mine once told me "Don't under estimate the value of a good handbag / tote.  It will pull your entire look together and make a statement." I smiled largely when I purchased that first designer bag and I thought to myself  "This is my career handbag. I'm here."

I find myself often getting wrapped up in the image of interior design, the image of the company I have worked so hard at creating. This is my "baby" as many say to me with a smile. When I meet strangers and they find out I'm a designer, it's always the same response "OH! WOW! That must be such a fun career, I just LOVE HGTV." Let's be honest, I will be the first to admit, it IS a fun career. I am so fortunate to do my passion every single day. Then I catch myself, almost feeling as if I am living a double life, because yes, while it is fun - people do not understand the day to day in and out of the design and construction industry. Dealing with tons of sub contractors, lead times, delivery expectations, quality control, and having to tell clients that their budget just isn't enough for that space they are dreaming of - that is always the hardest. It's almost heartbreaking, because guess what, we want it to happen to, but sometimes there is nothing we can do.  And this is just a small business in St. Petersburg, Florida, doing the day to day, trying to survive and keep this dream rolling. So I couldn't even begin to fathom the weight of all of this to a celebrity status individual, where large scale social media, tabloids and who knows what else come into play. 

Then - and then there is the personal side of life. That we all have. Spoiler alert:: I'm about to get real personal, so you should just stop reading if you aren't interested, think it's too much, or if it might ruffle your feathers for putting honesty and real life out there. Yeah, I'm looking at your Judge-y  McJudgerson. 

Some know, but many don't - I got divorced last year. Wow. Yep. There I said it. I got divorced. I just threw it out there on my business design inspirational blog. But, again, this is me being authentic, honest and real.

Let me tell you, going through a divorce, it 'effing sucks. A lot. No matter how respectable, amicable and cut and dry it is (thankfully, mine was all of the above.) It sucks. it distracts you, it overwhelms you, it makes you cry, it makes you feel like a failure and oddly enough it also makes you hopeful for the future (at least in my case it did). So many emotions are pulled different ways. I was basically a hot emotional mess most of last year. In the end, we are both happier and potentially better people for acknowledging that our relationship was over. I believe in my heart, we want nothing but happiness for each other. The year was tough, but I got through it, with the support of truly amazing friends, family and my loyal and loving team. 

Oh, but it's not over yet. Just when I thought it was, and I was in the clear and working through the whole process. My ex-husband is seeing my (now former) best friend. Yep. SUCKER PUNCH. The best friend I had since high school, my roommate in my early 20's, Maid of Honor's in each others weddings, there for the birth of her son. All of it. That kind of best friend. Yeah, sounds like an Emily Giffin novel doesn't it? Funny, those were our favorite books we would share. Oh, the foreshadowing. 

I'm gonna let that one soak in for a second ---

Okay, cool. We on the same page? I cannot even begin to describe the amount of heartache, betrayal and overall shock that I felt (and still feel) through all of this. I felt like my divorce was being resurfaced and at the same time, I was losing my best friend. The two people who were my people, were no longer my people anymore. I was devastated. There were days I didn't want to get out of bed, my brain couldn't focus, my heart wouldn't stop hurting, my mind wouldn't stop wondering. However, mostly, I just couldn't comprehend it, I think maybe, because I genuinely could never do that to someone. 

Finally, I decided, enough was enough, I wasn't going to allow them to have any more of my headspace. So I turned to friends, family, nature, health and fitness to get me through it. This is where this whole open letter thing comes full circle and it will make sense why I just dumped my personal life on you. 

At the end of they day, we all go through things, some similar situations to mine, some much deeper and traumatic and some could simply be a string of bad luck events. However, at the end of the day, it's about finding our tribes, it's about finding our people that we can lean on, that we can cry to, because it is okay to cry. And guess what, some will even cry with you, in the most unexpected of ways, on a back patio grilling dinner with a bottle of wine, they will cry with you and you will feel human. Lean on your friends, I have friends here locally and on the other side of the continent that have lifted me, showed me my strength when I couldn't find it and helped me wade those muddy waters. They have made lists for me when I'm down, all the reasons they find me amazing. And guess what? You can bet your ass I saved that list in my phone and I read it from time to time. They have sent me cards, they have gone on walks with me and my dog, they have put flowers and coffee on my desk with a cheeky note to bring a smile to my face. Don't be afraid to break down those walls, to scream if you have to. 

If you are feeling hopeless, down, confused, or just simply feel like you are aimlessly walking through life - I encourage you to find ways to settle and clear your mind. Here are a few examples that have helped me through the process, if you are local, I encourage you to check them out, but if you are afar, something similar may be in your area:

  1. Nature - I have made it a priority to be in nature and be without screen time, really be away from it. I have enjoyed paddle boarding, riding my bike, walking my dog and sometimes just sitting on my balcony enjoying a sunset. if you can, find a friend that wants to do it with you, or do it alone. Do what makes you happy. 
  2. Therapy - Sometimes speaking to a professional is the perfect medicine. I have been seeing a life / business coach for years, but when things started shaking up in my life, it turned into a weekly thing. We talk about my struggles, we talk about my celebrations, gratitude, what I need to work on and goals. We cover it all. Dr. Jaime has been an integral role in my journey and success. 
  3. Fitness - Oh my goodness, has this been HUGE for me. Okay, so here is the deal. When things get crazy, isn't it our bodies and fitness that we always let go first? *Lisa raises her hand, slowly* Getting a good workout in is such an immediate mood booster. So I found my local fitness gang, here they are: Krazy Kardio - I hit up a few times a week, the owner / trainer Kellie is one of the most positive and energetic people I know. There are some days I dread hitting that warehouse gym at 6am, but I know deep down, the workout endorphins and Kellie's personality will kick that sorrow mood out the door;  Central Cycling - sometimes it's just good to zone out, ride a bike and get your mind right; Body Electric Yoga - Ohhhh how I have coveted to be a yogi, but I could never get my head there. I'm pretty sure this wild ride I have been on, has forced my body to crave it. So I've incorporated yoga a few times a week, which I must say, I think it's working! I'm still learning (a lot) and likely screw up 90% of the moves, but hey, I'm trying, and it makes me feel good. I'll get there
  4. Find your tribe - Okay, let me just say, I have a few tribes. Don't feel like you have to limit yourself to one, or if you have one really kick ass one - roll with that! I have my work tribe, I've got my design tribe (fellow designer boss ladies), I've got my tribe I've been friends with for years; and I've also got my Boss Babes tribe. Whoever your tribe is, find them, and love them hard. Lean on them, when you are feeling in the slump and don't feel like doing anything, make yourself go to that event or dinner with the group. Your later self with thank you. It's all about finding like minded individuals to share your life and your story with, and learn theirs. 
  5. Travel - If possible, travel. It opens your mind, opens your heart and opens your eyes. 
  6. Find your passion - thankfully, I do mine everyday, so I was able to focus on that. Find what makes your heart sing and let it grow.
  7. Journal - Write it out. Write it out. Write it out. Whatever your heart desires. And don't bullsh*t journal. You know, when you write just on the surface, for fear you will die and someone will find your journal and think "Man. She was screwed up." Write for real. Also, put someone in charge of making it top priority of finding that journal and burning it, God forbid anything should ever happen to you. My former best friend was my point person for that, so that reminds me I need to find a new potential journal burning friend, hit me up if you want that task.  Write so raw, so real, so unhinged. That's when it will help you. 
  8. Give yourself a little grace - it's okay to be sad. To be in your head. To just be pissed. Sometimes self care means eating that pizza, drinking that wine and watching that movie. It's okay. Do it. Just know when the right time is to call in the troops and pull yourself out. 

At the end of the day, I'm not sharing all of my personal struggles with you for sympathy or things like "Wow, she has had quite the awful year!" I'm sharing because sometimes people need realness. Sometimes people need to know that everyone doesn't have a perfect life and they aren't alone. I'm sharing because maybe you are seeking ways to get out of a funk you can't shake, and maybe my short list above will provide some kind of inspiration. I'm sharing because you need to know that sometimes people suck and it's okay that it might impact you. I'm sharing because you my friend, you will get through it. Do I still have crappy days? Absolutely. 

I would also like to take this opportunity to apologize. Apologize to family, friends, clients and my team. Apologize for being mentally absent, for letting things slip through the cracks, being overwhelmed, getting a little off path, and sometimes crying out of nowhere. However, I want to also say thank you, thank you for supporting me, for being there and helping me, for not freaking out when you ottoman might have been late. Geeze Louise, it's always the freaking ottoman that messes it up. (Am I right, designers?!?)  For realizing I am human, and we all need a hug, a laugh, a glass of wine or someone to talk smack with. Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

If you do feel you are in a dark place, don't be afraid to reach out, ask for help, ask for support, see a professional. You will be pleasantly surprised how many people are in your corner, love you and want nothing but to see you thrive. 

*National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 - You are loved. 

Love, light and positivity. You've got this. 

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