Each year of life generally feels like it’s flying faster and that things are getting busier and busier…  I’ve kind of realized that it won’t ever really slow down and that I might not necessarily get to that “I have time for things” moment that I think I’ve been expecting would arrive at my doorstep for years now.  I find myself wanting to catch up with friends and do things socially and thinking and saying things like,  “when things slow down let’s do THIS” or “let’s catch up after the FILL-IN-THE-BLANK-WHATEVER-SEASON-IT-IS,”  for years.  Eventually the catch-ups happen but then it’s someone else you love that you need to catch up with and I’m left never feeling “caught up” with everyone.  I know so many of my friends are in the same boat with work & their kids and sometimes it feels next to impossible to coordinate with each other even though we want to so badly.  I do think, truly, we’re probably in the thick of it with little ones and now older ones in sports with their own social lives, but I’m also beginning to realize that you’ve just got to force those good moments in wherever you can because there’s never really a “good time” to fit anything in.

 

us being lovingly smashed by Aurora’s feet

 

When we moved to our town a few years ago, it was in an attempt to slow down a bit…  My studio is right near my house and we’d always thought we’d end up there one day when the kids left home but one day, Dave just looked at me and asked, “what are we waiting for?”

I didn’t have an answer and remember just thinking, “what if???”  Could we really “move out” that far?  And once we found our house (shortly after deciding we would “maybe” move if the right thing came along 😉 I remember walking the property before making an offer and just exhaling and feeling a sort of freedom there in the field but wondering if moving would really help at all.   It was at a seriously exhausting point in time for us…we’d moved less than a year before to our house, and were finishing up renovations on it and lived only a few minutes away from my parents and grandparents…   and we were realizing we desperately missed our old house and the acre of land we left.  We’d made this move and put the family through craziness to just realize that it wasn’t really our cup of tea.  We’d drive to work in the country every day and then go back home to hustle and bustle and we just felt like we were living a life we were “supposed” to live (I’d wanted to live that close to my family for as long as I can remember!!!) and now that we were finally living it, it just wasn’t right.

Our last house – we made it everything we wanted it to be and it was right around the corner from my parents & grandparents

 

We realized then that our best decisions had been made when we just did our own thing despite others maybe thinking we were crazy. (we got engaged when I was only 22 and married only five months later and it scared a lot of people around us lol!!)  It was this freeing feeling to realize that we value different things/ a different way of life from a lot of the people around us (including family members whom we love dearly)  and that we needed to go our own path. Our path is often more chaotic (lots of kids and ad animals and land) or risky (Dave quitting teaching to come work with me full-time or flipping houses) but there has been nothing more satisfying than going our own way in life.  We’ve made SO. MANY. mistakes along the way and there are for sure more coming our way, but we’re learning and trying our best and focusing on trying to appreciate what we’re going through as it’s happening and not trying to “wish” time away.

 

Our field before it was ours

 

But I remember walking our property before we owned it that day thinking, “will this really help me exhale? Or will this just be the place we live that I never get to enjoy because I’m way too busy to get the chance to enjoy it?”  I was so hopeful walking the property thinking “could this help us slow down?” but also kind of sad because I felt like I was on a hamster wheel and even moving there wouldn’t give me more hours in a day.  I was seriously exhausted and the thought that there wasn’t an end in sight was stressful so we knew we had to make a change.  From there, we plunged into the hardest renovation we’ve ever been through.  We lived without electricity at times, had to move out when there were gas leaks… and I was pregnant and first trimester was pretty awful there.  Financially, it was the toughest because we had so many “surprises” with this house- finding mold rot, and discovering that our entire terracotta roof needed to come off and be re-installed.  And we were filming sizzle reels and a pilot for our TV show.

 

We lived like this for a few seasons

 

Dave made it special… here, making pancakes with Gisele

 

But it was also filled with beautiful moments and I tried to focus on those.  If you follow me on Instagram, those are the ones I share- in part because I find that the more I focus on them and think about them, the more “room” they take up in my life.  So we would squeeze in good moments outside and we always try to spend as much time together with the kids as we can, but for a bout a year or so there, I just kept thinking, “If we can get through this, it’ll all be worth it.”  I held my breath.

It was just before this time – right before we moved / about three years ago after my first book had been out for about a year, that I realized I didn’t see an end in sight or any way to get a breather and that we needed to figure out other revenue streams other than my time/ interior design services.  Though I loved my job, I was feeling a bit run ragged and that’s when I started thinking about ways to supplement the design business so I could slow it down a hair and I also wanted to try to make something bigger than it.  I knew the things I loved to do- write, design, collect, garden, cook, fix up messed up properties- and we started brainstorming about how to possibly make these other areas work for us.  It was the main reason for us in saying “yes” to a TV show- because we felt like, with more visibility, maybe these other areas could be brought into play.

So, as we fixed up the house, we began putting business plans to paper, not knowing if we would get a show or not, but knowing that either way, we had to expand the business in order to take some pressure off of me and allow me more time with the family.  (One of these days I need to write all my “working mom” thoughts down!! But in our house it’s almost like I’m our race horse and Dave takes care of me as best he can, protecting my time as best as possible- fielding emails / saying no/ doing everything he can do around the house and in our business including the back-end/ with our kids that I don’t have to be the one to do -driving them to school/ packing lunch etc. and, most importantly, trying to preserve family time.  We try to maximize my hours because it’s how we get paid.  But I’d say this is an even more exhausting situation for him than me and I really don’t know how he does all he does. ) Anyway, putting a plan in place always makes us feel better.  Action is the anti-stressor and I think that part of the reason we often aren’t “stressed” and we’re feeling emotionally okay about things- is because we’re always moving toward our next goal.  We get exhausted but generally feel okay. The moments I’m stressed are the moments when I don’t have a clear path ahead of me or I’m hindered for some reason or another from taking action.

So the cool thing about the past six or so months has been that – after a few years of crazy- I have been able to get more time with the family in than I was getting before.  (I should explain that during the really tough times work-wise/ during pre-production & production for our show, I was getting out of work really late and barely seeing the kids and working Saturdays and then the kids had sports on Sundays so we just really missed each other.) But finally, our supplementary ventures were set in motion- our real estate brokerage, our property flipping, I’d finished writing the book, I got through the thick of product design on 4+ lines and had finished the difficult, initial push of designing the first collection- and I have been able to get some time back and have started to feel a true “slower” life than I’ve felt in years!!  I had to consciously decompress after the whirlwind couple of years and it didn’t come easily at first. We’ve forced moments outside whenever possible – having a garden does that for me- and overall, it really has helped me exhale and feel like things are slower. The reality is, that yes, things are definitely a bit slower for me, but they’re also still pretty busy and the only thing I can really control is my attitude/ or impression of my life.  My feelings towards how busy/stressed etc life is become my reality.

 

I love making weeknights special because it feels like such an unexpected treat

 

As I was writing my newest book, Down to Earth, I was really thinking about all of this and how it had been affecting my life, knowing that so many of my clients, family and friends are feeling the same things.  I thought about how plugged in we all are and how we’re just going going going all the time and how our homes are this opportunity to create something that can aid us in a better life.  I thought about how nature makes me feel and why I always try bring it in to my interiors.   I thought about how focusing on those amazing moments makes me grateful and appreciative… how making more of those moments is what it’s all about…  Being fully present and taking life in.

And so I’m not where I want to end up for sure, but I’m happy to report that my “go-go-go” has been replaced by more of a “go-pause-go-pause-go” and I’m pretty excited because it was something I tried to force on myself and it kind of worked.  It didn’t happen overnight and I’m under no illusions that we get to do things without sometimes having to hold our breath and push ourselves harder than might be good for us, but I’m feeling like things have a little more breathing room and that’s all I need for now.  I can now be pretty patient (as someone who used to have zero patience) and be okay with baby steps towards a bigger goal.  We’re about to plunge into a time of crazy- I remember from last time around- my book is coming out in a week, I’ll be doing a book tour, High Point Market is coming up and were launching a few new product collections this fall and winter, we’re rehabbing a large investment property and are undertaking Lost Cottage, and I’m working on new books- BUT I’m going to try to keep those sweeter, slower moments coming and squeeze them in wherever I can so that I feel like I’m getting more time with the people I love. and enough good times in between the hectic ones.

I had started this post with the idea of writing about how the garden and spending more time outside has helped me slow down a bit but it turned into my life story so if you’re still here- thanks! 🙂  I think one of the reasons I’ve been drawn back to the blog when I’d all but stopped writing it during the really crazy times is because writing helps me solidify my thoughts, come to conclusions, and keeps me accountable.  On the garden, note, here’s a photo of me outside our front door  (We had it made by Wellborn + Wright and they were amazing to work with by the way!!) when our window boxes were still alive.  The blouse is an older one by one of my favorite companies, Yoli & Otis (her instagram is one of my absolute favorite accounts!!) and I found the bag on etsy.  I carry it to/from work with my laptop in it every day.

 

 

And here’s a little shopping board of some of my current favorites inspired by the picture: (click on the numbers below the collage to view the products)

 

1  // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9 // 10 // 11 / 12 // 13 // 14 // 15 // 16

*my pants are #s 6 & 12

 

Hope you had a beautiful weekend & happy Monday!!

If you’re free next week, my book is coming out and we’re celebrating with a book party at Urban Country in Bethesda on Thursday! Here’s all the info and please rsvp to jillian@urbancountrydesigns.com if you plan on attending.

{haha and yes, I’m wearing the same blouse!! I’ve loved “puff” sleeves since Anne of Green Gables!! 🙂 }

There will be a few other local parties this month, including The Ballard Designs Store in Tysons on October 24th!  If you’d like to pre-order the book, click here for options to buy a signed copy or links to a bunch of online sellers.