BROOKSIDE OAK PART II: MASTER BATHROOM RENOVATION COMPLETE!

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Part I was all about the Guest Bathroom...Part II is all about the Master.

My clients initially reached out regarding renovating their Master Bathroom to increase its functionality. After 10 years of ownership, they'd only used the bathtub a handful of times & since the wife has an extensive makeup collection (one that would rival most professional MUAs!) she specifically wanted more style, better lighting and increased storage.

Done & Done. 

The Befores: 

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As you can see, even in daylight the bathroom was pretty dark due to its orientation on the back of the house & the little bit of good natural light that did come in was super hot (bright), which isn't ideal for applying makeup. With a countertop full of products and a basket full of styling utensils (blow dryer, flat iron, etc), adding more storage was key. The shower door needed to go. The shower & floor needed to be retiled. The bathroom needed some overall blush & gloss.

So we did some demo & started anew!

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Finishes in the Guest Bathroom mimicked the selections for the Master with the exception of the shower curtain and of course, the additional vanity. To keep the space from feeling too heavy, I decided to repurpose a piece of furniture for her new makeup area. We started out looking at desks and highboys, but either there wasn't enough storage or the dimensions just weren't right--makeup & products really need drawers for organization, not just open cabinets. When I stumbled upon the Heston Dresser from West Elm, it was just what I was looking for....and not only did it sit on a brass frame (yay for visual breathing room!) but it fit perfectly. She fell in love.

Dayka Robinson Brookside Oak Master Bathroom Renovation Robert Allen Wavy Stitch West Elm Heston Dresser Subway Tile Brass Kohler 11:2015
Dayka Robinson Brookside Oak Master Bathroom Renovation Robert Allen Wavy Stitch West Elm Heston Dresser Subway Tile Brass Kohler 11:2015
Dayka Robinson Brookside Oak Master Bathroom Renovation Butcher Block Countertop Grey Cabinet Kohler Brass World Market West Elm Heston Dresser 11:2015
Dayka Robinson Brookside Oak Master Bathroom Renovation Butcher Block Countertop Grey Cabinet Kohler Brass World Market West Elm Heston Dresser 11:2015
Dayka Robinson Brookside Oak Master Bathroom Renovation Robert Allen Wavy Stitch Subway tile shower Kohler Brass
Dayka Robinson Brookside Oak Master Bathroom Renovation Robert Allen Wavy Stitch Subway tile shower Kohler Brass

Replaced that old door with a new, custom shower curtain (Robert Allen, Wavy Stitch)--who says shower stalls HAVE to have doors??

Dayka Robinson Brookside Oak Custom Butcher Block Countertop Bathroom 11:2015
Dayka Robinson Brookside Oak Custom Butcher Block Countertop Bathroom 11:2015

And again, these countertops. To Die For.

What I forgot to tell you in my previous post is that these custom butcher block countertops were a total accident...though a happy one. They weren't the original product sourced--I'd planned to go with the more inexpensive Ikea version--but when the client selected an undermount sink, which requires the interior of the countertop to show, we learned that the Ikea version was not in fact solid wood but a walnut veneer wrap, which wasn't going to work with the sink (you wouldn't see wood all the way through along the sink cuts). Fortunately I was able to snag one of my carpenters who is a beast with wood working and he maneuvered his schedule to make this last minute project work. And when I tell you the final product turned out SO much better than what I'd originally planned?? OMG. No lie. These babies are hand finished so there will never be another pair to look exactly like these two! Renovations take longer than you expect and there are always hiccups along the way but 93% of the time.....the hiccups are well worth the change in plans.

Even with the addition of 4 new lighting sources: the LED makeup mirror (sourced from a hotel she loves), wood bead chandelier and pair of brass wall sconces (everything on dimmers for perfect light control), we kept the walls Shoji White (Sherwin Williams) to ensure there was enough natural light bouncing around the room. My first choice for the walls was a light toned grasscloth (great mix of texture & finish) but just like in the Guest bathroom, the clients weren't fans of any wallcoverings or saturated wall colors so we ended with a neutral color paint.

And sometimes it happens like that in design--as a designer you can create a vision and want to see it to the end, but the ultimate say is on the client. I'm generally very honest with my clients and will say, "I don't love your preference but it's YOUR house and YOU have to live here, so it should work for you!". I believe that clients should know the professional's honest opinion and then weigh the advice to make the decision that best suits their lifestyle. THAT is what makes for an awesome designer-client relationship--taking the professional advice + rules & bending them to create something that works for each situation--Co-creation at its finest!

Dayka Robinson Brookside Oak Master Bathroom Renovation Robert Allen Wavy Stitch West Elm Heston Dresser Subway Tile Brass Kohler 11:2015
Dayka Robinson Brookside Oak Master Bathroom Renovation Robert Allen Wavy Stitch West Elm Heston Dresser Subway Tile Brass Kohler 11:2015

2016 IN REVIEW....AS TOLD BY MY 2017 SELF.

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*Writing my intentions in future-past tense is something that I started last year & continue to do because I love the way it makes me think differently about how I spend my time. Knowing what I WANT to say helps me design my time with the end in mind and based on last years results, it's pretty successful!* 

You know what was cool about this year? Everything you touched worked in your favor, like you started out believing it would. There were so many engaging projects to explore and the right people showed up at EVERY TURN. For your events & your trips, as your assistants and your mentors, you always had had what you needed.And you made moves like you already knew it. 2015 was the warm up & 2016 was GAME TIME. It was the year that you finally let go of everything that's really been calling you the last 2 years and released it so that it could find it's rightful place. And so that, in turn, you could find yours, too.

You know what the most important thing was? You became an expert at doing the things that felt good. And you let go of your attachment to outcomes and just followed the curiosities for the sake of joy. And there were a lot of curiosities and wonderful surprises along your journey.You relaunched your website, expanded your services, went to your dream destination, created a tribe of women who are choosing to master their own lives and managed to visit the Taj Mahal, too. All the travel you did this year was really incredible. Far off destinations with wonderful tales & stories about each place. You saw Australia this year.....AUSTRALIA. You nevvvvvvvvvver imagined that happening, and yet there you were, with the pictures to prove it. That travel journal of yours really became a concrete thing! You released your book!! The very one you found yourself surprised to be writing & in letting go, it found the perfect audience...along with bestseller status. Personal development was the foundation of everything you did and because of your desire to help women create well-designed lives, the speaking engagements rolled in, full of rooms of people who were passionate about the same things you were and committed to doing their own work to achieve it. Everything you asked for was "with grace, in a perfect way" and that's exactly how it came. You took the time to really get your finances together and because you treated your money with respect, it respected you. And you made a lot of it this year.

You took a step back from some familiar things in an effort to let a new creative outlet spring forth. Brands & companies alike saw the value in your unique offering and partnered with you on exciting projects that were authentic to who you are and how you do business. Having freedom, investing in great projects and new relationships continued to deepen your well. Your life looks so different than it looked 5 years ago....and even 3 years ago. You've finally been able to see the fruit of what you always say, that what you desired was always desiring you.All ways. Cheers to a year well done!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! MY 2015 YEAR IN REVIEW.

Dayka Robinson 2016 New Year

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

2015 was probably my best year. (*except for 1984 when I got the Michael Jackson poster, doll and microphone for my 5th birthday but I digress*). 

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In January I proclaimed that my word for the year would be Intention but if I had to pick a theme, I'd say it was Expansion. My life really exploded last year. Personally & professionally, in ways I welcomed and ways that made me cringe, the entire year GREW me in the best ways possible. Many things (MANY things) didn't go according to plan and yet I feel really good about 2015 anyhow. And I can't articulate how good it feels to be able to say that. I've been in a sweet spot with my business for awhile and this was the year that saw me growing beyond my own comfort zones. Realizing that I want something beyond Interior Design and starting to allow myself to go after it. One of the biggest lessons I learned (and one I preach often) is--Pay Attention to How You Feel. I learned to really tune into how my body is feeling and let those feelings guide my next steps. If thinking about something gave me anxiety, headaches or made me feel uncomfortable, I tried my best to acknowledge te "elephant in the room" and steer clear....even when that meant I didn't know the next step. And I often didn't know the next step. But I started thinking a lot about things like ease and the path of least resistance and as much as possible, I tried to let that guide me when I didn't know what to do.  My 2015 was pressed down, shaken together and running over.  Here's a look back:

Dayka Robinson Stephanie Abrams Al Roker Wake Up With Al 2015

Dayka Robinson Designs Home Tour Southern Lady Southern Home magazine 2015-7

FIRST QUARTER:  In the most intimate & personal post I've ever penned I finally shared the story of my Vitiligo diagnosis with the world and received such kind & supportive feedback from everyone. So funny how I was so nervous about putting everything out there and now I'm like, "Oh, that? Oh yeah....". Growth is a beautiful thing.  Southern Home launched an incredible 8 page spread of my home and it was the first time I've really shared pics of where I lay my head in detail. You never really know if you're gonna love the articles when they come out but I've been really lucky--it was beautiful & working with everyone was a dream. I landed a coveted spot on Al Roker's national morning show, Wake Up With Al, with a live, in-studio interview with the man himself. Listen to me: Me. Live. Interviewed by Al Roker & Stephanie Abrams. National TV. Like, 3 days notice. Had me shaking a bit but I left the studio feeling like I knocked it out of the park. A major milestone checked off of my list. A cool, more personal feature on my journey went live on BlackEnterprise.com. Turned 36.

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Dayka Robinson Designs Essence magazine-may-2015

SECOND QUARTER: Redesigned my home office & created a space I'm still obsessed with! Started renovating my 1985 bathroom. Ummm....an ESSENCE MAGAZINE feature--an unexpected dream come true! A beautiful & personal Atlanta Home feature. Changed the course of my life when I decided to turn down a work opportunity to travel to abroad on my own--wrote that I was going before I even purchased the ticket. Created & starred in videos for Astrobrights, Office Depot & Office Max.

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THIRD QUARTER: Got the New York blood running back through my veins when I spent all of July in NYC. Worked on the Traditional Home showhouse in the Hamptons with BPF (see more of that on Instagram). Got a crazy stupid tooth infection on 4th of July. Saw Rob Bell in person! Hired by my first NYC client. Worked my butt off renovation a local clients' ever-expanding bathroom project. Changed the course of my life when I went to Istanbul. Came back to tons of work. Finally got my hands on a copy of my Black Enterprise feature--2 full pages, all Dayka. Hired an intern & learned a lot about being a boss.

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Dayka Robinson, Amtrak California Zephyr trip 2015

FOURTH QUARTER: Wrapped up client projects. Hired by Colgate Palmolive as Brand Ambassador for a very cool Family Dollar Fabulous event (Atlanta). Flew to Ohio to style TV commercials for Big Lots holiday spots. Was contacted about a super cool project shooting at my house with a major national magazine (goes live in 2016!). Decided to see America by Amtrak and booked myself on an extended vacation--one that was much more transformative than expected. Diligently working on a new website launch to expand my brand & diversify. TOOK THE TIME OFF THAT I EARNED!

So 2015 was full. And juicy. It gave me the courage to dream bigger & take more risks, which is the only way to create the life I most want. So that's what I'm gonna do. Step by step, bit by bit.

NEW PRESS! DAYKA ROBINSON FEATURED IN BLACK ENTERPRISE MAGAZINE

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Dayka Robinson Black Enterprise Apr 2015-page 2 (1)
Dayka Robinson Black Enterprise Apr 2015-page 2 (1)
Dayka Robinson Black Enterprise April 2016
Dayka Robinson Black Enterprise April 2016

I figured I'd slide this in before the end of the year since I never said anything to anyone but.....Black Enterprise featured me in a 2 PAGE PROFILE this year, too, detailing the story of my unlikely journey to Interior Design, showcasing my house (and some of my work) plus a few of my design tips as well.

Super cool, right?

It turns out that after I was featured on BlackEnterprise.com, Kandia (writer) reached out again saying the editors loved my story & wanted to profile it in print as well. Clearly I was blown away.There's nothing like being featured in a magazine whose pages you grew up seeing in your home & that of your parent's friends, full of people who LOOK LIKE YOU. A pinch me moment, for sure. While I don't do what I do for press, I'm not gonna lie--it feels really good to be acknowledged by people you admire.

The magazine was unfortunately very hard to find in March/April so I didn't get my hands on a print copy until long after it was off of newsstands (hence the delayed announcement). Nonetheless, the wait was so worth it!

Me + Black Enterprise. Wow. 

22 DAYS.

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22.

Alone that number doesn't mean much but in context, it represents a huge milestone in my life, because it's the amount of vacation days I took this year. 

Yup. Twenty. Two. Days. Of. Vacation. (shut up!!!!)

And I'm talking for real vacation, not that stay at home thing. That's basically a whole month of vacation, doing, living & moving as I want to. And it may not seem like a big deal to you but here's what it means to me: that the girl who graduated college not knowing what she wanted to do, bounced around from job to job, decided to follow a curiosity for which there really wasn't a path, built her own business while often feeling around in the dark, hit some personal speed bumps, and questioned whether she was doing the right thing but kept showing up--on her own terms--anyhow, can create a life where she gets 22 days of vacation in one year, then I'm pretty sure that you can do it too. I promise we're not that different.

So in the spirit of honesty, I looked back at my 2015 post written as my 2016 self and you'll see that I specifically said I was doing more traveling AND going on more vacations this year so it's not like I didn't claim it. But even then, I didn't really believe that it was possible likethis, for me. Sure everyone talks about taking "real vacations" and where they would go if they could but the reality is, we Americans tend to use our vacation days for things like handling important personal business, sick days or intermittent 3-day weekends. Not for taking care of self. As the year started progressing and Istanbul became a possibility, I said over & over that I wanted to spend more time traveling and once I did, it seemed like everywhere I looked I was being shown how possible it was. I started receiving newsletters with flight deals and following sites like Travel Noire that ramped up my desire. You've already read the story but my ticket to Istanbul? I found that deal in the wee hours of the morning after checking one of those sites on a whim. Next thing you know, I was across the world having the time of my life for a fraction of what it could've cost me with a group. BAM.

But let me not make this post about the deals.What I want to share (and celebrate) is this milestone of mine in the context of what it means to be an entrepreneur, self-employed, and to have the luxury of almost one month of vacation. There were times in these past 5 years when I didn't know how I would make it financially. When I wasn't sure what I was doing in my business. When my house seemed more like an albatross around my neck than my perfect refuge from the world. When I was all panicky like, "OMG, am I ever gonna go on vacation again??". And then all of the sudden I look up and here's 2015, dangling weeks of vacation in my face like "Heyyyyy girl, c'mon...". And you know what? These vacation days were actually work days for me (stay with me here). Not in the rolling-my-eyes-cause-I-don't-wanna-do-this kinda work but the who-I-am-and-what-I-do-are-so-in-alignment-that-work-is-my-life way. Traveling has given me content (substance). It's allowed me to not only connect with fellow travelers & people I met along my journey, but to connect with my tribe (that's YOU) in a deeper way. To expand my life and encourage you to expand yours, too. And that's really the work I want to be doing.

Pardon my brag moment but I'm pretty damn proud of this!! It's a reminder that when all of the ups & downs are weighed, I've had a better life taking a chance on me than I ever had as a 9-5 employee. There are new dreams on the horizon now + new fires burning and it helps to be reminded that I've already done so much more on my own than I ever did chained to a standard office job. And you know what else? The things I most desire are truly desiring me--just not in the way or time that I think they should. I wrote that post in January and effectively forgot about it after the first quarter. But that international vacation & those passport stamps I mentioned?They were hunting me down even in my "forgetfulness". 

So I think I've got the hang of this thing now.

Next year I'm claiming more than double which may sound crazy to you but....watch it happen.

22 days in 2015.I'm geeked. 

TRAVELING ACROSS THE U.S.: MY AMTRAK ADVENTURE

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Travel. Travel. Travel. 

It's really all I think about since I've been back from Istanbul.

Where to go. How to go. When to go.

I wanted to take another trip before I closed out 2015 and while I'd planned on organizing a girl's "Think Weekend" in Vermont, I was without the energy to fully immerse myself in the planning & decided go the solo route yet again. Cartagena, Colombia crossed my mind but as much as I wanted to go, the thought of site seeing & exploring left me feeling drained. This time I wanted to relax & rest.Think. Write. Plan. I wanted to see more of the US (hence my DEEP desire to go to Vermont) in a way I hadn't done before. So I decided to book myself on a cross country adventure from Washington D.C., to LA via Amtrak. I say "adventure" but it's more of the relaxing sort--one where I can be served breakfast, lunch & dinner in bed and spend my days reading & gazing out the window at sites like the one above. And yes, that's a picture of the actual route I'll be taking.  Now if seeing that picture doesn't get you excited & make your toes curl...then you & I are probably not the same kind of person!

Long distance travel via train is something I've wanted to do foreeeeever.White Christmas is one of my all-time favorite movies and the scene on the train has always stuck in my mind. I used to love riding the train back in California but this time the mode of transportation is not just a means to an end--I'm specifically traveling to experience the breadth of the United States via Amtrak's greatest route, the California Zephyr, in ways I could never do if I were in a car. I'm traveling Coach from DC to Chicago's Union Station where I'll switch trains to board the California Zephyr & settle into my private sleeper for the scenic route to CA.  I am EXXXXXXXXXcited!! I'm looking forward to a few days of disconnection (one of the things I LOVED about my solo trip to Turkey), taking in all of the beautiful scenery and getting to meet new people which is heralded as one of the special perks of train travel. The wi-fi doesn't really work on the train but I'll be documenting as I go and will share when I'm able!

Please keep me in your thoughts as I embark on my trip--I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

HOW I BECAME AN INTERIOR DESIGNER (& why awful jobs can be good for you): PART II

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I'm finally detailing my journey to becoming an Interior Designer through the careers I've attempted and the lessons I've learned along the way. Click here to readPart I of How I Became an Interior Designer

LESSON #4: PLAY TO YOUR STRENGHTS

Here was the problem with Real Estate--I didn't like to hard sell people on anything. Buying a home is a big investment and my thought was if you want it, you should buy it. You should NOT buy a home, however, because I talked you into doing so. I didn't like having to call people up and pester them about whether they or their friends wanted to buy/sell their homes in 7 days--it actually made me uncomfortable, partly because there was too much small talk involved (I don't really do small talk). I tend to be a pretty decisive person, so working with clients who were incredibly indecisive didn't feel empowering....it just felt like an energy suck. It was Divine Guidance that those I-know-what-I-want-and-I'm-ready-to-buy-right-now clients never came to me--I didn't sell a single house during those months at my real estate brokerage & in hindsight I'm thankful that I didn't. If I had, it definitely would've encouraged me to "try harder" to make that job work instead of moving towards something better. One of my strengths was my confidence & passion about the things I believed in but I found that I was neither confident nor passionate about selling real estate. So instead of trying to strengthen one of my "weaknesses"...I moved in the direction of my strengths.

LESSON #5: PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT'S ALL AROUND YOU

Which brought me back to my house. By now, renovations on my 1984 fixer upper were in full swing. Prior to moving in I'd repainted the interior (which was originally pink!), removed all of the old carpet and updated the entire first floor with bamboo flooring to get the place in livable shape. Having purchased a house with SO many projects to complete I religiously read design & renovation magazines to get inspiration for my projects and devoured them like wildfire. Even though money was tight, working on my house became a mini obsession.

Late one night I stumbled across a blog and...itessentially changed my life. It was 2009 and I'd never seen a blog before (didn't even know what one was!), but I stayed up all night reading page after page of decorating & lifestyle posts. And then I clicked on a link and found another person sharing about her life & DIY projects and I.was.hooked. What was this fascinating little online world where people built community by sharing the details of their lives??! After a few weeks of spending countless hours a day reading blogs I started thinking that maybe I could do it, too. I wasn't sure that anyone would read what I had to say but I still figured, "Why not??". I reserved a name on blogspot.com (Meditations on Life & Style--which I thought was VERY cool at the time) and on May 28, 2009 I wrote my very first blog post (read it here). When I started blogging I wasn't sure what I was going to write about...but I kept going anyhow. I took advantage of all the extra space in my new house & went back to refinishing furniture as I had done in my first apartment. One day I decided to start sharing those DIY refinishing projects on my blog and it took off. As my refinishing skills increased I started selling my furniture online (Craigslist, Etsy & later, One Kings Lane) and then readers started emailing me & asking for design help. By November 2010--only 18 months after penning my first blogpost--I officially launched Dayka Robinson Designs and the rest, as they say, is (documented) history.

So as you can see, my path to Interior Design was far from straight. I "tried on a lot of hats" before I found something that fit and during those years I felt a ton of confusion, frustration & despair at my "inability" to find my way. Let me clearly acknowledge this because I don't think enough of us do: it sucks not having something to pour your heart into especially when that's the one thing you want most in the world (and I don't mean someone). So many of us are raised to "just get a respectable job" and when you couple that with the desire to do basic, normal things like live independently, own a car, treat yourself to a nice dinner and pay your bills on time, the pressure to settle for the first job offering a little bit of money is REAL...even though you know you're gonna suffocate. This road (following your heart) isn't the easiest road because much of the path is built as you walk it & no two paths look exactly the same. It is, however, the most rewarding by far. And when you have the courage to walk away from jobs (situations/people) that don't fit & continue seeking out your next true thing, you'll look back and find that you've gained an intangible education that money couldn't buy. All of those "awful jobs"?? If you keep going you'll eventually find that they all played in your favor because each one taught you something valuable about yourself or confirmed with all certainty what not to do. And even the perceived "setbacks" are a step forward--this game is a marathon, not a sprint.

In my years of searching I learned that: (1) How I feel about the work I do matters. (2) Working in a supportive environment is important. (3) If it ain't right, it ain't right. (4) Play to my strengths and (5) Pay attention to what's all around me. And you know what? Today these lessons are are as true as they ever were. They served me years ago to help find my way to interior design and now they're helping me to create an even larger vision--a holistic business that I'm incredibly proud of and excited for. 7 years ago I NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS would've predicted I'd be a successful Interior Designer....and yet by Grace, here I am. I say this all of the time but only because I believe it so deeply: whatever is calling you, run towards it as if your life depended on it. Because it does.

It's your road and yours alone. Others may walk it with you but no one can walk it for you.(Rumi)

Click here to read Part I of my journey

image via Hilary Maloney

HOW I BECAME AN INTERIOR DESIGNER (& why awful jobs can be good for you): PART I

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NEWSFLASH: I was just your average college student. I'm a proud Spelman Woman but I didn't really showcase my aptitude in school (though I had a great time!). I remember graduating and feeling a bit of a panic, not knowing "what I was going to do with my life" because I hadn't followed a traditional path. While most everyone I knew spent their summers in great internships or studying abroad, I was home & hanging out with friends, working at Outback Steakhouse--far removed from cool companies or groundbreaking research. After graduating a little behind schedule, I started working for Kroger corporate and found myself smack dab in the middle of job purgatory. My California experience was great but upon transferring to Atlanta & approaching the 1 year mark, quickly it became a job that sucked the life out of me. Three of us worked in a teeny tiny office on the second floor of a warehouse made of cinder blocks with zero exterior windows. Each desk faced a wall. I remember I used to dread Saturdays because it meant that the next night I'd have to get ready to go right back to work (and you know your job sucks when you're dreading Saturday nights). When my manager pulled me aside one day to tell me that I "needed to stop talking about my upcoming graduation around the office because it was flaunting it in the face of everyone else who didn't have a degree" (people who were all at least 15 years older than me), I knew it was time to go and I did.

In hindsight, there were some great things about that job though. Not only did it get me back to  Atlanta (and cover some of my tuition) but I also got to know some really great guys who worked in the grocery/freezer warehouses on the facility. Guys that, after my having only worked there a few months, banded together to help me move into my new furniture-less apartment. And since I was determined to make that house a home, I spent the weekend before & after my move scouring thrift stores for gently loved furniture and casegoods that I could refinish & re-love. I had no idea at the time that this "thrifting phase" would play such a huge role in my life as I moved forward. I tried to hold out at that job as long as I could but around the 1 year mark I decided that it was time to go.  Before I left I'd started thinking a lot about what I could do/wanted to do next and I knew I wanted something that would be interesting & exciting with a lot more freedom. Hair & beauty was the thing that I was into at the time and it was seemed like a really fun and creative career so you know what? I bit the bullet and enrolled in hair school.

Lesson # 1: HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT THE WORK YOU DO MATTERS.

Lesson #2: WORKING IN A SUPPORTIVE ENVIROMENT IS IMPORTANT.

Let me tell you what I loved about hair school:that I could be myself. For the first time in my life I found myself in an environment where the most successful people I knew were actually making money by being themselves. Wild hair? Cool. Tattoos? Fabulous. Piercings in your lip? No one cared. Hair school wasn't about how you dressed or what college you went to but solely about skill. There were some things I didn't take to (strict rules & set schedule), but what really made me feel free was the creative aspect of it all--the environment was charged with an energy of creativity.  It's the first place I learned that if you carry yourself like an expert, people will believe you're one. Having a creative outlet & being able to wear what I wanted were things that I loved....but after logging hundreds of hours learning the technicaI skills, it became apparent that I really didn't want to stand up and "do hair" all of my life after all. My feet were sore from standing all day, I wasn't that great at small talk and I didn't want to discuss the finer points of pop culture day in & day out (clearly all stylists don't experience this but I believe it was my experience because I wasn't supposed to be there). After working in a salon for a few months I realized that I was more suited to be a salon manager than a stylist (another clue!), but even that wasn't something that I wanted to pursue with reckless abandon. So once I completed my hours to graduate, I just stopped trying to force it. I didn't think I was good enough to be a stylist...but it wasn't my self-critical nature that turned me away: I simply didn't have a passion for the job. I caught some flack and felt ashamed that I'd "wasted" that money but it just wasn't going to be a good fit in the long run. I never took the State Boards to become a licensed cosmetologist or anything, I just stopped....and never looked back.

LESSON #3: IF IT AIN'T RIGHT....IT AIN'T RIGHT. 

While I was working at the salon, my lease was ending and my father suggested I start looking for a home to purchase. I knew early on that I was looking for something that I could put my own stamp on--change the flooring here, mini bathroom renovation there.I liked the satisfaction that came with getting my hands a bit dirty and missed having an open space where I could paint & refinish thrift store furniture to my liking. I would search the home listings on my own, drive past the properties I liked and then send my realtor a final list of the homes I wanted to see inside of. We did that until I landed on a house I thought could be perfect and I promptly put in an offer, closed the deal and became a homeowner (2006). Closing on my house marked the end of my salon days but the beginning of a new career--Real Estate. It seemed like a shame to let everything I'd learned in my home buying process go to waste and I really liked looking at houses so I thought, "I could make a pretty good real estate agent".

I was a lot like Little Red Riding Hood in those days, desperately trying to find something that fit so I could have a career I could take pride in. Something where I'd feel stimulated, excited & engaged with work that I'd be proud to share with my friends & family. I simply refused to spend the majority of my waking hours endlessly complaining about a job. The thought of being miserable for 40 hours/week had me crying myself to sleep some nights because finding meaningful work was turning out to be harder than I'd thought.

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