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.”

REJUVENATION

Last week I took the week off. Right in the midst of gearing up for production. This past year has left me mostly weekend-less and working late at night almost every night. I love working on Eenvoud, but once our Kickstarter rolled past $10k, I was done. Nothing left to give – no energy, no drive, no will to work. I burned myself out and I burnt myself good.

Roatán is a small island off the eastern coast of Honduras and is known for it’s incredible diving (it’s surrounded by the second largest barrier reef in the world, second only to The Great Barrier Reef). I went with friends and family, I didn’t bring my laptop and I left my phone on airplane mode, checking it only once at night for anything urgent. I spent the mornings reading and drinking coffee near the water, the days in meditation 60 feet underwater and the evenings watching the sun set with friends, rum punch and baleadas. Nobody around us had cell phones out at any point in the day, and without that constant urge to check my email or Instagram, I was able to fully experience the place that I was in and be with the people that I was with. And it felt so damn good.

I came back with drive – my tank re-filled, and with more than just rum. Spending that week in Roatan made me realize how much fully checking out helps to keep me happy and full of energy when I need to be on. Even when I do take days off, I still find myself constantly checking email and social media. It’s like having an app running in the background – it still drains your battery.

So I’ve decided to try something new this summer. In honor of working hard AND enjoying all of the little things that make life what it is. Here are the rules:

  • No working on the weekends unless absolutely necessary
  • No checking email or checking social media on the weekends
  • If I do need to do work, do so more consciously – give myself a few hours to get in and get out. No email or social media checking allowed.

I’d love to hear what you do to rejuvenate. Please feel free to share in the comments below.

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.

SLOWING DOWN

Last week I tripped. Hard. This past month has felt like running a marathon at a sprinter’s speed and I finally fell. I got really stressed out and then I got really sick. Having to slow down and take things easier has reminded me that pushing that hard to make things happen doesn’t work in the longterm. Right now I’m prepping to launch our Kickstarter campaign in a mere few weeks, trying to get all of the remaining elements of Eenvoud wrapped up and simultaneously trying to push my fit modeling career to new heights. That may not sound like a lot, but on some days it feels like an ultramarathon.

I often feel like I’m rushing through life; hustling hard to make things happen; trying to squeeze the most out of every hour / every day that I can; working late because I can and waking up tired. But this isn’t fully what the life that I want looks like. I want success as an entrepreneur, but I also want a sense of ease, sleep, health, presence, happiness. Those, to me, are part of success.

I know a lot of people that struggle with this. How can you be super productive, but also live in the moment? How can you push to make things happen, but also be in flow?

I’m still trying to figure this out, but here are a few tips that have helped me.

1. Create a daily work schedule and stick to it, no matter what. Habit creates the space for creativity; similar to the way that wearing the same thing everyday allows you to be more creative. Habit frees up mental space and energy.

“A solid routine saves you from giving up.” -John Updike

2. Exercise in the morning. I do this for three reasons:

  • It’s nearly impossible not to be in a good mood after you’ve worked out.
  • It wakes me up and boosts my energy for the remainder of the day.
  • I don’t have to think about finding the time for it later in the day. Mental space.

3. Include breaks in your schedule. I take an hour long break at lunch and another hour break from 3-4. For a walk to the river, to read on the stoop, to catch up on blogs, to eat chips on the couch, to take a nap. But no working. This ALWAYS helps my productivity, no matter how much I think I can’t afford to take an hour off.

4. Keep lists of what needs to be done for each project and the night before, choose just 1 or 2 things from each to focus on the next day. Schedule them into specific time slots of your day. See 1. Stick to it. I use Asana for this.

5. Be gentle with yourself. I get as much done as I can during the day. If some things don’t get done, I finish them the following day. Living life fully is just as important to me as ticking off all the things on my list. That means fish tacos and a beer at the end of the day (almost always) trumps working for those 2 or 3 or 5 extra (probably stressed out) hours. Allow yourself space for pure enjoyment. It will pay off.

I hope this offers some inspiration for all of those out there creating in our fast-paced world. Run, don’t sprint. Walk if you have to. Make sure to stop and drink some water. Celebrate with tacos. If you have any personal tips, please share the wealth in the comments below.