Ease

I believe that behind everything that we chase in life – people, places, things, experiences – there is a desired feeling. The reason that we want certain things isn’t really about the actual thing, its because of the way that that thing makes us feel. A certain relationship might make us feel connected, loved and wanted. A job at that company may make us feel secure, powerful or inspired.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this idea and how it drives everything that I do. Danielle LaPorte has a great book about this concept called The Desire Map. Essentially, her book helps you to dive deep and figure out the 4-5 core feelings that you want to feel the most in your life. Once you know these, every little decision that you make can be measured up against your core desired feelings. Life becomes so much simpler when you’re crystal clear on the why behind all that you choose to do.

I have several core desired feelings, but the one that I long for the most is a sense of ease.

What is ease? Its not necessarily effortlessness. To me it means a more balanced life. It means inspired work following by pure relaxation. Its means passion versus striving. Softness versus force. Intuition versus overworking. Light versus heavy. It means being present, intentional and living slower.

As an entrepreneur living her life in New York City, ease has been a very hard thing for me to find and hold on to. How can working hard and ease share a life? How can you feel light, but also own a business? The all illusive question. Its an ongoing journey, but along the way I have discovered several life practices that have truly helped.

1. Follow your gut. If there’s one thing that starting my own business has taught me, its that your intuition always knows best. If you feel like you have to push really hard at something, its not the right thing. Return to your gut feelings and let them guide you. There’s nothing wrong with doing things the easier way, as long as they don’t compromise your well-being, others or the planet.

2. Keep life really simple.

  • Own less. Eliminate everything you own that’s not used often or that doesn’t bring you joy.
  • Do less. Eliminate everything you do that’s not truly necessary or that doesn’t bring you joy.
  • Eliminate distractions. Make the choice to truly work when you’re working and truly relax when you’re not. So much of our time gets filled with unconscious internet scrolling, Instagramming, email checking. It can be hard to break this habit, but once you do you’ll find you have so much more life to live.

3. Don’t overwork. Don’t work at night or on the weekends if possible. Don’t even check social media or your email. Nobody will miss you and you will gain so much. You’ll do things you wouldn’t normally do because you didn’t have the time to. You’ll bake just for the pleasure of it. Go for more walks. Eat more icecream cones. Connect more deeply. This is what ease is all about. Give it to yourself.

4. Slow down. ‘Enjoy the little things’ is part of our tagline. When you slow down you become more present and the world blossoms. There are so many ordinary things, fleeting moments and funny occurrences surrounding us that are pure magic. They make life blissful and they are the essence of ease. No striving, just happening little moments of magic. Slow down.

“Let me give you a wonderful Zen practice. Wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and laugh at yourself.” -Bernie Glassman

“Being at ease with not knowing is crucial for answers to come to you.” -Eckhart Tolle

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” -Kurt Vonnegut

“Our bodies have five senses: touch, smell, taste, sight, hearing. But not to be overlooked are the senses of our souls: intuition, peace, foresight, trust, empathy. The differences between people lie in the use of these senses; most people don’t know anything about the inner senses while a few people rely on them just as they rely on their physical senses, and in fact probably more.” -C. JoyBell

“Calm is a super power.”

Spring Simplicity

Spring is so wonderful, but it can also be pretty tumultuous. The weather can go from 70 and sunny to a snowstorm and back again. Everybody seems to get sick. Hello allergies! And that longing ache for full-on summer. Here are 5 tips to help ease into and simplify your spring.

Spring Clean

Its cliché, but spring cleaning really does do wonders. Give your home a deep clean and get rid of (donate or sell) any of your stuff that’s either not directly improving your life or doesn’t bring you joy. Also, make sure to put away your winter things – snow boots, parkas, extra comforters.

Plan Your Wardrobe

Planning out my seasonal wardrobes is something I’ve been doing for a few years now that has made my life so much simpler. Each season, I take a look at everything I own and keep only what I want to wear for the next 3 months in my closet. Everything else gets put in a storage bin under my bed or is donated. Then, I allow myself to buy a maximum of 3 new things each season (not including essentials like socks and underwear). Sometimes I don’t buy anything, but giving myself this limit means that I’m extra intentional about what I do add. This process has helped me to build a beautiful and small wardrobe of only things I love slowly over time. This spring, I added:

The Double Pocket Trousers in Black (coming in late summer).
This awesome vintage chore coat.
-A loose striped linen t-shirt.

Take A Breather

Taking a time out is a really helpful way to say goodbye to one season and hello to the next. Time off is rejuvenating, refreshes your work ethic and helps you to more clearly see what to focus on for the months ahead. Last week, I took five days off in Argentina. I soaked up sunshine in Buenos Aires, drank malbec in Mendoza and didn’t look at my email or Instagram once. So good.

Update Your Exercise

Exercising in the winter is really tough for me. Walking to the gym is freezing. Jogging on a treadmill is just so dull. As soon as April hits, I’m back to running outside and walking the 20 minutes to my favorite yoga class. So good!

Take It Slow

Just because its warmer outside doesn’t mean you have to suddenly do all the things you didn’t do when it was dark and cold. Be gentle on yourself, keep your days simple and make the space to enjoy all of the little things that Spring has to offer – warmth, light, freshness, flowers, anticipation.

“For a seed to to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” -Cynthia Occelli

“They remembered only the feeling which is the meaning of spring — one’s answer to the first blades of grass, the first buds on the tree branches, the first blue of the sky — the singing answer, not to grass, trees and sky, but to the great sense of beginning, of triumphant progression, of certainty in an achievement that nothing will stop.” -Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

“It was such a spring day as breathes into a man an ineffable yearning, a painful sweetness, a longing that makes him stand motionless, looking at the leaves or grass, and fling out his arms to embrace he knows not what.” -John Galsworthy

December Feelings

December can get crazy. There’s this pressure to get everything done so that you can relax by Christmas. There’s pressure to attend all of the parties. There’s pressure to spend money buying gifts. There’s pressure to find the perfect gifts. This year, I’m trying to take a step away from all of that and instead am focusing on all of the little things that can make this month feel so warm.

Below are two quotes that I’ve come across recently.

“Dios aprieta peru no ahorca.” (God squeezes, but he does not choke.)

Our patternmaker, Iris, said this to me during an especially crazy pre-photoshoot day a few weeks ago. God / the universe / the world will push you, but only for your own good. It wants you to grow, not shrink.

“People always think that happiness is a faraway thing,” thought Francie, “something complicated and hard to get. Yet, what little things can make it up; a place of shelter when it rains – a cup of strong hot coffee when you’re blue; for a man, a cigarette for contentment; a book to read when you’re alone – just to be with someone you love. Those things make happiness.” -A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The holidays don’t have to be about how many festivities you made it to or if you found the very best sweater for your brother. Instead, they can (and should) be about taking the time for and spreading the warmth.

Keep Showing Up

The last few months have been full of change. My studio mate, Kristin, and I decided to move out of our big Brooklyn work space. She’s moving to the west coast and I moved into a cozy (tiny) office closer to home. It’s fully fall. The webstore is about to launch. New winter samples are almost finished and I’m in the midst of designing spring pieces. Up, down, left, right, go, stop, change. Its always like this, but regardless, how do you deal?

When Kristin and I moved into our studio last spring, we wanted to come up with words to put on the wall. Words that would get us there everyday and inspire is to keep going. At some point this summer, she told me she that she was saying the words, “keep showing up” everyday. I’ve been saying them everyday now, too.

Keep Showing Up. Physically, mentally and every single day for that thing that truly inspires you, even if only for a little bit. Even if you don’t get much done. Even if what you do feels like a waste of time (is complete shit).

Any true creative will tell you this. You have to keep making things everyday, because the truly beautiful moments and work only come from a massive amount of time put in and not beautiful work. Picasso said this well: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”

So in case you’re in need of words for your wall, for fall, for today, for everyday, to help you deal:

Keep showing up.

Rushing

Last month I had a wake-up call. I was rushing from a fitting to a casting, trying to make it onto a bus to New Jersey that only ran a few times a day. I was speed-walking down the street, whipping around people with an unattractive scowl on my face. I didn’t like that I was doing this and almost stopped to just reschedule. But as time got closer I only sped up. And then I tripped. On an escalator in Port Authority in New York City, arguably the worst place in the world to slice open the bottom of your foot and bleed all over. A janitor yelled at me for getting blood on the floor. Oh New York.

12 stitches and a rescheduled casting later, the rushing hadn’t mattered. What did matter was that I couldn’t walk on my foot for a good two weeks. It was a very painful reminder of something that I already knew – that rushing, in any sense of the word, is no damn good.

We all know that rushing is inherently detrimental. Rushing is what causes things to be overlooked, problems and fuck-ups to occur, creative sparks to be missed. But, our culture also highly values productivity. Potentially even more than it values happiness. The more you can get done, the farther ahead you are, the more money you have, the more stability you have. Creativity and productivity often seem to lay on opposite poles. How do you walk the line?

I think the answer is compassionately. You do what you can with what you have and know that it’s enough for today. You understand that truly wonderful things truly take time. You stop comparing yourself to others and instead put your head down and do good work. You are kind to yourself above all else. You realize that those sparks in life that we all chase after come from purposefully slowing down, not speeding up.

“Once you stop rushing through life, you will be amazed how much more life you have time for.”

“I regret less the road not taken than my all-fired hurry along the road I took.”

“Remember the great adversity of art or anything else is a hurried life.”

“Good and quickly seldom meet.”

“Don’t run, don’t rush. Just flow.”

The Little Things

An ice cream cone in the middle of the day.
Walking slowly to work.
A croissant from the French bakery down the street – on a Monday.
Noticing something beautiful on your block that you’ve never truly seen before.
Having somebody innocently and genuinely smile at you.
Finding a note from a loved one in an unexpected place.
Getting whipped cream on your hot chocolate.
Taking an hour lunch break to sit outside, even when you’re busy.
Reading on a stoop in the sun.
Burger dates with your best friend.
Witnessing an act of kindness between two strangers.
Watching the sun rise and set.
Going to the movies with coffee on a cold morning.
Going to the movies on opening night alone (you always get a seat).
Giving and receiving gifts with deep meaning.
Seeing an old man or woman smile wide.
Having somebody you love take your hand in theirs.
Reading a really good book in one day.
Reading in the same position until a limb falls asleep, and still not moving.
Exploring a new place with no agenda.
Listening to a new song on repeat for an entire afternoon.
Cooking for your parents.
Sitting by a wood fire in the morning.
S’mores made over a campfire.
Being surrounded by fireflies.
That feeling of instant calm when you arrive at the ocean.
Swimming with your dog.
Body surfing a wave all the way to shore.
A really really good glass of red wine.
A hike on the first perfect fall day.
Laying in the grass on a summer night staring up at the stars.
A long run in the woods with your music turned up.
A perfectly ripe summer tomato.
Homemade dinner alfresco.

It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” -Laura Ingalls Wilder

What are your little things?

BLOCK ISLAND

Block Island is a small New England island situated 13 miles off the tip of Montauk and 14 miles from the coast of Rhode Island. It’s less well-known than it’s counterparts, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, and that’s partly on purpose. Block Island is modest. You won’t find expensive shopping, fine dining (although there are some excellent restaurants) or scenesters. There’s no golf course. And while there is a small airport, it’s not big enough for commercial jets.

Block Island’s values center on the land. 44.7% and growing of the island is protected land, thanks to the Block Island Conservancy, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, set up in 1972. Greenways (hiking trails (see above)) weave across the island. And the first offshore wind farm in the United States is currently being built 3 miles off the coast of the island.

Block Island also happens to be my place of residence many weekends of the year and is a major source of inspiration behind Eenvoud. There is something about the island that can only truly be understood by being there — a palpable appreciation for nature, simplicity and time spent well with each other. If there’s any place that truly values “the little things”, it is Block Island.

On that note, I want to leave you with a quote I stumbled on recently and that I think so perfectly embodies a way of living that so many of us are chasing after in life…

“To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable; and wealthy, not rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly; await occasions, hurry never;  in a word: to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common – that is my symphony.”

-William Henry Channing

Have a wonderful weekend. Hurry never.

POST LAUNCH FEELINGS

The past two weeks have been a wild ride. As the shock of hitting our goal so quickly has slowly worn off, I’ve found myself in a weird place. People starting talking about Eenvoud. Friends I haven’t seen in years thoughtfully posted about us on Facebook. Strangers pledged to our campaign and sent me beautiful messages (thank you!). And, all that I wanted to do was hide. To pull the covers over my head and ignore the noise. And to not work. At all.

I was equally as shocked by this complete lack of motivation as I was by our success. Was I burnt out? Maybe. Was it relief? Definitely. But after some reflection, I think what was really going on was that I hit a hard ceiling I had set for myself. I had my sights set on our $10,000 goal, but nothing more. Well, we smashed through that ceiling pretty quickly and it left me feeling unworthy. It overwhelmed me. It made me want to hide, and I did for about a week. It’s a strange feeling – getting what you’ve worked so hard for and having it scare the shit (yeah, shit) out of you. It was a first for me.

Marie Forleo recently posted about this exact topic (ironically on the day that we hit our goal) and I highly recommend giving it a watch – Stop Self Sabotage: How To Handle Your Upper Limit Problem.

I’m back in my groove again and feeling excited about where we’re going. We just signed on a studio space with our friend and fellow designer Kristin of Seamly Co. Everything is blooming outside. It’s all good.

Have you ever experienced hitting an ‘upper limit’? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

TINA HOFER MEDICO

Tina is a fellow Factory45 alumni, a strong female entrepreneur, a friend and confidant and an overall sparkly person. While not a clothing designer, her product, The Sparkboard, is made for designers. Learn more below.

About Tina:

Tina is an Atlanta-based interior designer and the founder of The Sparkboard. The Sparkboard is an inspiration corkboard by day that turns into a piece of modern art by night. As a creative person who’s always wanting to tack stuff up on my walls, but who also wants a clean and minimalistic home, The Sparkboard is perfect for me. Tina’s Kickstarter campaign to fund her first production run is live now here!

What is the meaning behind the name The Sparkboard?

For me, “spark” is anything that makes you feel alive, connected to the present moment and full of possibility.  The Sparkboard is a dedicated space where people can capture and explore their creative spark.

Do you have an ideal customer or muse? Who is he or she?

Yes. YOU! J/k… kind of. 🙂

My ideal customer is a woman who’s creating a career and a life on her own terms. She’s tapped into her creativity and using her natural gifts to bring beautiful products, services and powerful messages to the world.

Tell us a little about your creative process. How do you come up with new ideas or designs?

My brain is a strange mix between type-A control freak and carefree playful dreamer. Harnessing the right part at the right time is not always easy. I generally get my best ideas when I’m out for a long walk or dancing around the house. I write down good ideas or things to remember on scraps of paper and try to keep it all in one dedicated place (obviously for me that’s The Sparkboard!). Then I’ll get clear on the desired outcome of my project and work my way there using the notes I’ve saved in my SB as jumping off points or building blocks. I don’t know if this makes any sense but it seems to be the way my process unfolds!

What does sustainable design mean to you?

Creating high quality, timeless pieces that add beauty and functionality to a space (or a wardrobe!) for years to come.  Using materials that are responsibly sourced without depleting or overtaxing our current resources.  Choosing production partners who value social and environmental responsibility.

The Sparkboard is all about fostering your inner spark. How to you keep yourself balanced and inspired while running your own company?

I have to make time for play and personal care in my daily schedule. It’s so easy to become overwhelmed and overworked when you’re your own boss.  No one else is going to tell me to take a break or take time to celebrate my wins (no matter how small!) so it’s my responsibility to build that into my workday.  This is a lesson I’m still trying to fully learn.

If you could only wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?

A wide-leg, high waist navy jumpsuit with a cropped, white tailored jacket! I have an outfit like this that I wore to my wedding rehearsal, to The Sparkboard photoshoot and to several other important gigs in between. It lets me feel super pulled together and super comfortable all at the same time!

Finish this sentence. Simplicity is:

Having everything you need and nothing you don’t.

SRRING WARDROBE

Spring hit New York this week. And the warmth is inspiring small shifts in my daily routine. Running outside instead of at the gym. Iced coffee over hot. Lunch on the stoop. A few wardrobe updates.

If you’re like me, a new season can throw you a little off sartorially. Layers come off, but I find myself not wanting to wear the same winter clothing combinations anymore. And my style has evolved slightly from last years warmer weather style. I want newness.

For the past year, I’ve focused on buying less and more purposefully. For the first time ever, I’ve actually planned out exactly what I want to buy each season. I allow myself a maximum of 3 purchases each season (Spring: March/April/May, Summer: June/July/August, Fall: September/October/November, Winter: December/January/February). This may sound obsessive, but it’s actually quite freeing. Instead of going about life, buying things that you come across on impulse and building a mismatched wardrobe; looking at your wardrobe systematically allows you to build a really awesome, small and curated closet over time. Instead of feeling slightly disappointed with your full closet, you feel inspired to slowly create a collection of garments that make you feel proud and like yourself. It’s a bit like slowly building an art collection that’s uniquely yours.

This process has radically changed my approach to dressing, and I’m hoping that it may offer some inspiration. Here are some tips:

1. Create a visual board of the vibe that you feel drawn to each season. Here’s mine for this spring: https://www.pinterest.com/eenvoudny/spring-is-coming/.

2. Write down the exact pieces that you want. This prevents you from buying something that isn’t quite right. Here are mine:

  • A blush / light pink cotton turtleneck or long-sleeved shirt
  • A black or navy cotton calf-length muscle tee dress
  • Black leather sandals / shoes with a 1” block heel

3. Buy with the intention to keep (and mend) these items for many years. This means focusing on your personal style over trends and buying items that are made well and with quality materials.

4. Plan how you’ll integrate new pieces with what you already have. For me, I’ll mix the above with Levi’s, black turtlenecks, Eenvoud tops, white wide-leg cropped trousers and a denim jacket.

5. For each garment that I add to my closet, I donate or sell something I already have. This keeps my wardrobe small and filled with only what I truly want and need.

6. Basics like underwear and socks don’t count towards the seasonal purchases, but anything else does, even if it’s ‘basic’.

Keeping life purposefully simpler can feel very inspiring, freeing and allows for more mental space to enjoy the little things in life, like lunch on the stoop.

If you’re interested in learning more about a curated wardrobe approach, RODEO, Desmitten and INTO MIND are great places to explore more.

Happy Spring!