RUMI. TINDER. AND DAYKA 4.0

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One of my favorite quotes is by the ancient Islamic mystic, Rumi. It reads:

Know then that the body is but a garment. Go seek the wearer, not the cloak.

I repeat that last part to myself constantly:

Seek the wearer, not the cloak. 

Every time I say it my spine tingles because as India Arie says, "You know the truth by the way it feels."

And this, my friends, feels like the truth to me. The more I decipher those words the more I understand the call.

Go in search of what is True.Chase down what is real.Deliberately strive for that which can't be seen. 

This stuff is sooo good!!

But here's the thing about expanding your mind--once you learn something new, you can never unknow what you know. People can't pee on your head & tell you it's raining anymore, so you have to start acting like you know better.  And once you truly understand that you've been called to chase down that which can't been seen??Well then that's exactly what you have to start doing.

But that's not very easy on an app like Tinder.

Over the years I've connected with tons of matches, sent hundreds of text messages, ki-ki'd on a handful of phone calls & even gone on a couple of "dates" (including an epic 6 hour adventure in Spain!) but nothing's really panned out for me. I blame it all on Rumi's directive.

The thing is--when I start swiping rightI don't like who I become.

The app encourages me to pick people apart based on their cloak--the outside stuff. From what they're wearing to what their house looks like, the second I open the app it's like I become this woman who has an opinion about EVE.RY.THING.

Well, wait a minute. Okay. I mean...I actually always have an opinion about everything but...the Tinder version of me feels super critical. And petty. Like Dayka 4.0. But trust me when say that Dayka 1.0 is more than enough--we don't actually need to go to 4.0.

Now some of these guys might be actually be funny & engaging but I'll never know because I'm too focused on things like why they have dark sunglasses on in every single picture. Why they're kissing their dog in the mouth. Why they're posed in a residential area with 15 shotguns. Or why they've taken multiple pictures of themselves bare-chested in front of a bathroom mirror with their underwear pulled down beyond their pelvic bone. These are the kind of things that bring out Dayka 4.0.

But then I hear that familiar refrain--Seek the wearer, not the cloak--and I'm reminded of what I've been called to do. And I remember that the only thing that's real is what's unseen.  Who you are. The wearer. 

Because in real life, love has never found me because of a cloak.

On the contrary, it's always found me unexpectedly. Chance meetings. Random funny conversations. Unexpected connections. 4.0 loves to focus on the cloak.But 1.0 searches for spirit. And Truth.

The guys I've liked?? I was drawn to them because of their spirits..and their jokes...and their intellect...and their experiences...and their energetic chemistry.I didn't choose them because of how they looked---I chose them because of how they felt. And because the way a person feels can't really be articulated in a photo (well, it kinda can but that's another post)...I'll just loop back to my dear friend Rumi.

Seek the wearer, not the cloak. 

When I whisper that phrase to myself it's a reminder that seeking anything requires intentional action on my part. It requires me to chase, pursue & strive--so if I'm to be responsible for "seeking the wearer" in every situation, I know that what I'm looking for isn't going to be found on that easy, surface layer.Instead my job is to actually look beyond the cloak and find the wearer inside. I believe it's the only thing I'm really here on Earth to do.

But that's not an easy feat in a world that encourages us to focus on the glitz & settle for what's on the surface. Knowing someone requires that you first make yourself knowable. Vulnerable, open, available, interestED---all of it. You can only get to know others once you've gotten to know yourself...that's the only way any of this works.

So tell me: if the Wearers meet Wearers & Cloaks meet Cloaks....which one are you??? 

ALL YOU NEED IS 1%.

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In Numerology it's said that 2017 is the year of New Beginnings (2+0+1+7=10=1+0=1), but new beginnings aren't always as simple as just walking into a new life. Big, new beginnings are actually just a bunch of tiny endings in disguise--and never has this been more apparent than now, as I prepare for a new life in a new place. I know I'm not the only one experiencing this itch...everyone I know who's undertaking something fresh and new is feeling a bit uncomfortable & scared, while simultaneously being 1000% certain that they must do the thing that is calling them. Welcome to Vulnerability 101...

This weekend, while spending my 38th birthday relaxing in bed, the scripture about "faith the size of a mustard seed" randomly popped into my mind & I started thinking about just how TINY a mustard seed is. I thought about how doubt, confusion & discomfort are intimately tied to the process of change and it made me remember that the amount of faith required to do amazing things is actually really, really small.

You only need a little bit more faith than fear to get you through uncertain times. Like, 1% more. You don't have to immediately know who's gonna help you or how things are gonna line up--you just need to have faith that the help WILL be there when you need it. And thinking about it this way makes embarking on those "impossible" things a bit easier 'cause 1% feels like a no-risk kinda investment. It feels like something I can happily sign myself up for.

So I pulled myself out of bed & went off to buy some mustard seeds--I needed to feel what that kinda faith felt like in my hands. And then I went to a dollar store & bought some tiny gift bags. I searched online for my favorite version of that scripture, typed up a few copies, hit "print" & then rolled them up like scrolls and placed one in each bag along with a little mustard seed. I knew I wanted to give my friends a gift at my dinner later that night & I'd just stumbled on the perfect thing--a "portable faith kit". (lol)

In the restaurant a few hours later, I gave the bags out to my friends & explained that my gift was to be a tangible reminder of the fact that embarking on all of the amazing things in our "new lives" also meant that much of our "old lives" had to die.Which of course feels scary.And not a lot of fun. But that if we can just remember to tap into that 1% more every day, it will be enough to carry us through the uncomfortable places.All we need is 1%.

Holding this bag in my hands & rolling this seed between my fingers helps me to really FEEL what this means.  I carry mine in my purse so I can touch it often & every time I do I'm reminded that I don't have to move mountains, I just need to believe that mountains can be moved.And that alone is good enough. 

I shared this message on social media & got a lot of messages/comments from people who shared that they were going through much of the same thing, and because I know that I'm not alone--that we're not alone--I wanted to send out an email to share this you all, too.

Never forget that the big things in life are just a bunch of little things in disguise. No matter what anyone says, you actually don't have to know the entire game plan before you start--you just have to start.And you start by deciding you want something different than what you have & by choosing to believe that something new is possible. From there anything can happen...and it will.

All you need is some faith the size of a mustard seed. All you need is 1%. 

And if you feel like you could use one of my "portable faith kits", just let me know by commenting with your email address & I'll contact you directly to send one in the mail!

WHAT TO DO...WHEN YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO.

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I thought my first post back would be a recap of the incredible experiences I had during my trip to Morocco, Spain & Portugal but I want to talk about something else first. Something that's probably been on your mind as much as mine.

 I didn't watch any of the 2016 election coverage.

I didn't up wait for all of the votes to come in and didn't check in with all of the networks to hear the pundit analysis. When I woke up on Wednesday morning I was on Instagram for about 2.5 seconds before I noticed that the energy seemed....off.

I decided then & there to protect my spirit and my energy by staying away from social media so I immediately deleted Facebook & Instagram off of my phone--I didn't want to get caught up in the sea of negative emotions that I KNEW was overflowing online.

Was I sad? Yes. Confused. Yes. Hurt? Definitely.

So yesterday I took some quiet time away to focus on finding my peace. On remembering that peace is something that I create for myself--not something the world creates for me. I needed a break so that I didn't get caught up in the fear, the helplessness, the despair, and everything else that so many are feeling right now. I needed silence to connect back to my core beliefs: that God is ALWAYS working in my favor.That feeling powerless means that I can ask to be shown whatever it is that I'm not seeing about this situation.And that my destiny has never been--and never will be--in the hands of the President of the United States...no matter who is in office. I needed to remember that being empowered is a choice I can make every single day, regardless of any outside circumstances. 

So what do you do in times like this when you may not know what to do??You go INSIDE and find your center by reconnecting back to the core beliefs that govern your life--positive ideals that make you feel empowered & inspired to act thoughtfully. And when I did that I remembered a few things that I wanted to share with you:

Unprecedented times mean unprecedented things can happen...but this is also the process by which incredible discoveries take place.We are more socially & spiritually aware than ever.We are more connected to each other than ever.We are FREE.We have the luxury of CHOOSING how to feel, where to live, how to spend our time, who to love, who to marry & what to think. We get to CHOOSE what we want to create for ourselves in this life.

And this is a radical statement but hear me out: I think it's pretty awesome that someone with no qualifications can be the leader of the free world. Because that means that if it's possible for him....it's possible for me, too. I'm always thinking about whether I'm "qualified enough" to embark on some of the deepest desires of my heart and you know what I realized yesterday?? That worrying about whether or not I'm qualified is just self-limiting bullshit that I've been carrying around in my bag. There's so much more that I can do to live the deepest dreams of my own life and the mere fact that I'm seeking those things means I'm qualified enough to have them--period.And I wouldn't have really tapped into that beautiful thought without this crazy, emotional & unexpected election process.

Good or bad, I understand that everyone may not feel the way that I do and that's absolutely okay. But this is my truth, and I wanted to share it with the hopes that it might help those of you who may be feeling discouraged.

Take care of yourself, and take care of each other. We're all going to be just fine--this I know for sure. Things are always working out in your favor. 

xo,

d.

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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DAyka Robinson, HGTV Spring House 2015 BTS

Dayka Robinson Atlanta Home Summer launch party 2015

Dayka Robinson, Spelhouse Homecoming 2015

Dayka Robinson styling, Columus Ohio, Big Lots, 2015

Dayka Iesia 36th birthday 2015

Dayka Robinson Designs 2015

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Dayka Robinson, magazine shoot, press, oct 2015

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.

Dayka Robinson, Colgate Palmolive, Family Dolla Fabulous Atlanta 2015 Dayka Robinson, Jenni Evora Family Dollar Fabulous Atlanta 2015

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.

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. 

AMERICA BY AMTRAK: MY CALIFORNIA ZEPHYR CROSS COUNTRY EXPERIENCE

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It takes a certain kind of person to want to travel cross country by train.

There are some places you'll go, people you'll meet and things you'll see that will awaken you to the fact that you're far from home (perspectives differ greatly across this country)...and yet remind you that this vast country IS your home. You'll get to ride through a million little Heartland towns--ones you'd probably miss if you routed yourself cross country in a car. But most importantly, there's all the time you'll have to simply relax. Be rocked to sleep by the train as it runs across the rails. Cozy up with a book you've been meaning to read. Watch a movie. Stretch your legs. And just be alone in your thoughts. In comfort. Huge reclining seats with elevated footrests (and I mean reclining, not like that 2 degree airplane recline). Window curtains for the sleepy hours. Comfy lounge chairs, end tables & dining tables in the Observation Car for the times when you wanna just hang out. Food on demand (for a fee). I mean, seriously--what's not to love about riding the rails??! Long distance train travel definitely isn't for the "I-wanna-hurry-up-and-get-there" crowd--riding Amtrak is all about creating a deliberate experience though new meeting people, engaging in wide-ranging conversations, and enjoying a slower/less hectic pace of travel. And if you're into that kinda thing, then I'm telling you--you need to book yourself a ticket in 2016.

Dayka Robinson Amtrak California Zephyr 2015
Dayka Robinson Amtrak California Zephyr 2015
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Dayka Robinson Amtrak California Zephyr 2015 Colorado
Dayka Robinson Amtrak California Zephyr 2015 Colorado

So first things first: Amtrak. My adventure was fantastic--everything I hoped it would be (except longer!)! I flew up to Washington D.C. the day prior to my departure and then traveled from DC to Chicago on the Capitol Limited (via Coach, since I couldn't justify paying an additional $300 for a 15 hour ride). I did some research before I left & learned that Amtrak runs the A/C year-round in each car so it can get chilly at night....and if there's one thing I really don't like it's being cold while I slumber, so I came prepared with a plush throw blanket + pillow packed in my carry on. It was by no means freezing, but I wouldn't have wanted to be without my goodies, either. :-) When I arrived in Chicago the next morning, I decided to make the most of of my 5.5 hour layover by checking my luggage & exploring the city. In DC I'd originally planned to visit the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture but didn't get the memo that the Grand Opening isn't until February 2016. As luck would have it, while reading Ebony on the plane ride over I ran across an ad for an exhibit on David Adjaye at the Art Institute of Chicago. David is actually the architect of the new Smithsonian museum (Adjaye Associates) so it made for a perfect plan--I'd make a beeline for the museum once I was settled and see as much as possible. I checked my luggage, did a quick walking tour of the city, then headed for the Art Institute when it opened.

Dayka Robinson, Art Institute of Chicago 2015
Dayka Robinson, Art Institute of Chicago 2015
Dayka Robinson David Adjaye Smithsonian National Museum African American History, Art Institute of Chicago 2015
Dayka Robinson David Adjaye Smithsonian National Museum African American History, Art Institute of Chicago 2015

(A model of the actual Smithsonian museum)

Dayka Robinson David Adjaye exhibit, Art Institute Chicago 12:2015
Dayka Robinson David Adjaye exhibit, Art Institute Chicago 12:2015

Seeing the notes, sketches, renderings & models of David's projects over the last 15 years was an incredibly in-depth way to learn about his work. I was bummed about missing the museum in DC but as a creative--having the opportunity to intimately explore the process of a fellow creative is priceless! And this unexpected experience is one of the things I love about traveling solo & leaving wiggle room in your plans--you can always find a way to take advantage of your layovers and get out to see something new! If you travel with an open mind, the journey will always lead to an adventure . I never would've known this much about his body of work had I missed the exhibit so it was definitely time well spent! I ended my Chicago tour with some deep dish pizza (not a fan!) and then Uber'd back to the station just in time for my next departure.

Amtrak California Zephyr Roomette 2015
Amtrak California Zephyr Roomette 2015

(Two seats facing each other that turn into a bed at night + an upper bunk for a second traveler, extra gear, etc. Your Amtrak attendant will make your bed every night around 8-9pm!)

Dayka Robinson Amtrak California Zephyr 2015
Dayka Robinson Amtrak California Zephyr 2015
Dayka Robinson Amtrak California Zephyr 2015-2
Dayka Robinson Amtrak California Zephyr 2015-2

Once I boarded the California Zephyr in Chicago I settled into my Sleeper Car and was introduced to Al, my Sleeping Car Attendant, who provided service all the way to California. Traveling by train isn't the standard mode of travel anymore and I'm so glad I did it with my own room. Private quarters, separate bathrooms, showers, individual temperature controls,  breakfast, lunch & dinner in the dining car included (omg, I ate like they were forcing me to!), meal service in your room (if you so choose)--everything was covered. Going First Class isn't cheap but let me tell you, it's worth your pennies for the longer rides! I sat in my Roomette as the train pulled away from the station and seriously felt giddy (which is a word I rarely use). I felt like a boss for pulling this trip off, not because it was so "difficult" but because one day I decided to fulfill a dream of riding the train cross country & a few weeks later I booked myself a ticket and did it! Traveling to Istanbul opened my eyes to how much there is to experience in this world & how easy it is to make travel a priority and I promise--since I've awakened to that fact (and made a decision to GO!), opportunities are coming at every turn. The last few months have been hectic & filled with work and I'm learning that I don't function well with stress, so this trip was just the break that I needed. I loved sitting in the Observation Car late at night with my blanket, reading in the silence and lying in bed, watching Colorado fly by, felt like I was being transported back in time (Al would joke with me, "Are you gonna get up??" LMAO).  The people that I met (those whose names I remember!) each defined specific sections on my trip--Dr. Larry in Iowa, Danny from Chicago, Najla & Michael from San Francisco, Adam in Colorado, the ticket agent in Grand Junction. And you know what I talked about with these people? Deep stuff, like taking care of your money so your money takes care of you. Medical school. God. Religion. Marriage. Blended families. Amtrak. Politics. Freighthopping. Choosing not to have children. They all let me into their lives in intimate ways that you can only do with strangers and they're the kinda connections I live for.

Dayka Amtrak California Zephyr Observation Car
Dayka Amtrak California Zephyr Observation Car

When the train pulled into Reno I decided to jump off to surprise my BFF, stay the night and catch the next train out the following day. I ended the Zephyr in Sacramento (spent my layover at the California State Railroad Museum which was the perfect use of time) then rode a different train down to Fresno, where I grew up, for what was supposed to be a one night layover (more on that later). If I have any complaints about my trip it was that it wasn't long enough. I was constantly torn between hanging out in the Observation Car meeting people vs lying in bed & reading so an additional day on my trip would've been perfect. Would I do it again? Absolutely, except next time I'd go from New York to San Francisco, New Orleans to Montreal or San Diego to Vancouver. You can say I'm addicted, partly because I love the train and partly because this kind of travel just changes who you are. Once you've traveled somewhere new--especially when you're doing something that stretches you beyond your comfort zone--you can NEVER go back to being who you were when you left.  Completing this trip gave me the courage to book one of my dream trips....you're gonna die when you find out where I'm going next.

Until then, I took a few of my 67 videos (LOL) and made them into a little montage of my trip. Click below to see!

WHY INTERIOR DESIGN MATTERS TO ME: MY MANIFESTO

Being an Interior Designer has been one of the biggest blessings of my life.

To have created a life with art as my center, doing something I love (and think I'm pretty good at, too!) around interesting people with similar creative interests and energies feels like a divine appointment. 
And yet sometimes I find myself wondering if there's more. 
Beyond the cushy velvets, embossed wallpapers, latest natural-fiber floor covering and punchy paint colors, I've found myself questioning why design is important to me and why I do this for a living.

I've thought, and thought, and thought about it (watch this if you don't know what I mean), and I came up with this:

Over the last few years I've changed--seismic changes that have caused me to rethink EVERYthing about my life--and I realized that...I've been through a serious growth spurt in the last 2 years. As my inner life has changed, my outer life has made many incremental shifts as well and as a result, my "why" is vastly different today than it was when I started my business in 2010. In fact, I didn't really have a "why" when I started out doing design, other than the fact that I loved beautiful design and wanted to soak it up 24/7.

But that alone isn't reason enough for me anymore.

For me, my connection to design is about more than simply living in a well-styled house or having nice things for the sake of sharing pretty pictures with the world. If there's no deeper anchor in my well, my love for design will fade away in the coming years, quite the same way my juvenile love for mustard sandwiches did so many years ago (and I mean straight yellow mustard on white bread--nothing else. Yum.).
Design is my vehicle (as is writing!) to share the story of who I am, where I've been, whom I love, and what's important to me.

So here's my truth:
I believe wholeheartedly in living with intention.
To me, this means getting really clear about what it is you want and plan to get out of life. Not to to be confused with HOW you're going to get there, but examining WHAT you're choosing to focus on--how you want to feel, who you want to be, the type of life you want to lead--and letting these answers guide all your choices.
I believe in a LIFE, not just a room, well-designed & focused around your values and intentions. Asking questions like...

What is important to me?? 
How can I lead my life in a way that the important things are evident??

And I believe that your home should be an extension of these answers.
After all...it's the place you rest your soles and your soul.
Nourish your  friends & family.
Let down your hair.
Take off your mask (and your bra).

So my conversation is widening and becoming about more than just giving my clients an on-trend space that gets pinned thousands of times and hundreds of likes on Instagram, but something that really helps them get closer to who they say they want to be.

Is entertaining important to you? 
If you're not doing it now, how can I help you create a space to do more of what you love in a way that best speaks to the core of who you are??

That's what I really want to know, and this is how I really want to help my clients.

The thing about a life passion is this:
when you have it, it spills over into other areas of your life. 
There's no such thing as work & life separation because you've made the object of your life passion your work, so those two things are like a couple that's newly minted--snuggled in bed together with their legs intertwined all up & around each other. I obsess over design stores and ransack flea markets in my free time/when I travel because I LOVE to do so and for me it's not just a job...it's who I am.

So here's my design manifesto.

I believe you were designed to live a fantastic life.
I believe your home should fit your lifestyle & desires,
and support you in living the life you've always wanted.
People should walk into your home and get a glimpse of who you really are. 
Your home should honor your incredible journey.
I believe in buying pieces because you love them and finding ways to make them work
...because that's reason enough.
I believe your history should be cherished.
I believe you should create your life around the things you love...
but always seek out the things you love in the life you have now. 

The bottom line?
You deserve to live the good life.
Let me help you figure out what that is. 

pics via: here and here

TWO HOURS CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE: MY NYC VACATION RECAP

Washington Square Park

My time in NYC was soooooo good.

 DUMBO 

It started out as a business trip that became a bit of a vacation and even though it was NYC and I've been a million times before...this time, everything was just different. 
Ever had a trip or experience where EVERYTHING comes together in the most perfect way that you could never foresee on your own? 
That's a taste of what this was. 
Work with Flynnside Out and the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island brought me out to NY for 2 weeks initially (see more about our incredible work here), then I decided to return for the Designer Showcase Gala honoring all of the RMHLI designers and stay a few days beyond my work needs for a lonnng overdue (and much deserved!) vacation.

Sweet, rockstar Jeana

My vacation agenda?
Relax. 
Roam the city. 
Rendezvous with friends. 
Meet with a few business contacts. 
Do a smidge of sightseeing. 
Blow air kisses to my beautiful godson. 
Reclaim the city as my own. 
And most importantly, to just to be in the moment everyday, soaking in every minute of my trip.

I rented an apartment on AirBNB (my first time using the site) and had a fantastic experience (I can't say enough good things about the site)!!
It was a smaller, 3-room studio apartment in Times Square which, despite all of the chaos of tourist traffic, made it super easy to connect to any subway line I needed. And the true benefit to staying in an apartment, especially on a trip like this, is that it felt like home and gave me a hint of what it would be like if I lived in NYC. Lugging your ridiculously heavy luggage up the steps of a steep, 3 story walk up and traipsing around a 500 sq ft apartment with bathroom so tiny that the front of the toilet barely missed kissing the bathtub??
Now that's an experience that you can't get in a boutique hotel (and I loved every.single.minute)!

If you follow me on Instagram (and you should do that), you know that in the days before I left, I took time to set my intentions DAILY about what I wanted my trip to be, how I wanted to show up for others, and what I wanted to feel while I was traveling...and I was determined to get what I intended in my heart, despite the fact that rain was threatening to dampen my entire trip. I arrived to the rental car counter (needed a car for Long Island), only to meet the most charming Sales Manager who fell in love with my name and promptly upgraded my ridiculously inexpensive rental to the most expensive car on the lot with no change in price. Let me keep the car for longer than my initial reservation and waived all late fees associated with my last minute date change.
And while I had effectively set the tone for my trip prior to leaving, I knew this was a sign of great things to come.

My sis

Telisha Gibson

Kim, my BFF since freshman year at Spelman

This trip was important to me for so many reasons, many of which didn't hit me until I got ready to leave.

I'm 35 years old, and this is the first vacation I've ever taken by myself. 

Even though I have friends and family in the city, I intentionally stayed by myself so I could have time to be alone and move according to my own schedule. I didn't want to shop with friends, or club all night long, I just wanted to reclaim the city as my own & make new memories...venture out at the drop of the dime and navigate the subway on my own (for the first time, ever).
 NY has always been bittersweet for me, because--though I'm originally from the city--I've always associated it with my father, having spent my younger years there visiting him.  The man who used to put me in his lap and let me drive the car down empty cobblestone streets in our neighborhood (loonnngggg before it became known as the Meatpacking District), made me listen to classical music & Charles Kuralt on Sunday mornings and taught me the proper way to eat a NYC hot dog (spicy mustard, extra onions).
He passed away 7 years ago but I've always felt his energy the strongest there and while I've always loved New York, it's also made me a bit sad because I wish he were here to see who I've become--I think he'd be very proud. So it was good to be in NY and make new memories for myself, and odd as it may sound, it felt like my father was next to me the whole time whispering in my ear,
"This city is yours now...make it your own."

And so that's what I did. 
In all of my solitary time walking through neighborhoods streets and cafe pit stops to write audacious plans in my moleskine, I was reminded that I have so much to celebrate! Here are the facts:
I'm 35.
I'm happy. 
 I'm relatively healthy.
 I'm single with no crazy baggage. 
I don't have any kids.
I own my own business.
I have the ability to create value ANYwhere.
I have a really, really good life that I love.
(I'm also very intelligent and pretty hot, but we'll leave that off the list for now.)

Kellan, my super delicious godson who is too quick to ever get an in-focus photo!

And there's nothing holding me back...from anything I want to do.
I had an opportunity to spend a good amount of time in my old neighborhood and I felt the most intense feeling of gratitude for my life...and incredible sense of luck to have been given the parents that I have. It reminded me that my life is so much bigger than Atlanta, and while I've created something here that I'm so deeply proud of, my story is not confined to this city.
There is nothing holding me back from exploring the world....and in all of these last few years of building my business, I think I had forgotten that. But now that I've been reminded, I know I want more.

So while I went to NYC with thoughts of what I wanted to give to the people that I came in contact with, it turns out that the city gave ME the most important gift of all--a chance to reflect on my life, learn myself in a new way and expand my thoughts on what's truly possible for my journey.
And in a nutshell, this is how a 2 hour flight and an itty bitty vacation can change your life....because somehow, someway, it absolutely changed mine.

"Give and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full--pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back."  
(Luke 6:38, NLT)