Happy 2014–one tiny DIY and one big philosophy

I’m back……

Oh, lovely readers, I am thoroughly ashamed that it has been months (months!) since I last posted anything.  I could give you a whole bunch of excuses (like I was busy, and then I felt guilty for not posting, and then I felt like I had to do a REALLY AWESOME POST to come back, and then I was busy, and then I couldn’t think of a suitably REALLY AWESOME POST, and then the weeks kept spiraling by…), but instead, I think I’ll just jump back in with the simplest DIY project ever seen on the internet.  Seriously.  I checked.

DIY… and a bit of New Year’s musing.  Yes, I know it’s January 23, but in my world it’s never too late for a little inspiration.

 I think my interior designer mother would be proud…. Mom?

I think my interior designer mother would be proud…. Mom?

The first concrete thing I wanted in 2014 was a desk.  Seems simple, right?  Except that a whole extra piece of furniture in a New York apartment can require a great deal of planning and finessing/redoing the current layout.  But I wanted it–a real desk, of my very own, and we had one very awkward corner of our bedroom that I thought had JUST enough room.  I saw a post on Pinterest that struck my fancy, drew a picture of what I wanted, got out a tape measure, googled furniture dimensions, found a couple of friends to share a zip car with me, and raided IKEA to make my vision happen as quickly as possible.  Thank goodness for IKEA and their inexpensive small space solutions–one busy Saturday with a morning drive to Brooklyn and an afternoon with a screwdriver later, I had my desk and teensy narrow bookshelf, as well as an inspiration board that I cobbled together with a piece of cork board, some foam core, and an old IKEA poster frame from the back of our closet.  I even gold-leafed that sad metal frame to make her prettier (more on that later…it was a crafty weekend, y’all, and I suspect I may have a new obsession with gold leaf).  Then of course I wanted all the pretty office supplies that I saw online, but I managed to check myself to things repurposed from around the apartment, and some cheap silver-tone thumbtacks at Staples.  Because I knew I was going to make those thumbtacks DAZZLING.  How?  My favorite thing: color.  Specifically, nail polish.

Seriously, this literally could not be easier, and the possibilities are almost endless with the color and texture selection of nail polish out there.  It dries almost instantly and covers the metal beautifully.  The hardest part may be finding something temporary to stick the little guys in while you paint them (I had a small piece of styrofoam packing material from my IKEA desk that fit the bill beautifully, but an empty cereal box or similar would work).  The rest is cake.

 Clockwise from top left: Before painting; my painting supplies; my little beauties drying after the first coat; and my current Netflix obsession: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (Aussie TV series about a sexy, sassy, 1920′s era lady detective–full of wit and charm and perfect for light DIY project viewing).

Clockwise from top left: Before painting; my painting supplies; my little beauties drying after the first coat; and my current Netflix obsession: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (Aussie TV series about a sexy, sassy, 1920′s era lady detective–full of wit and charm and perfect for light DIY project viewing).

Now for the philosophy part…because it’s still an almost brand new year…

I first connected with Martine Holston through  (remember this post?), and I’ve found her work and writing pretty darn inspiring.  So when she posted the following little gem in the MM Facebook community, I knew I wanted to try it.  I hate the word “resolution”, but I’ve been a fan of the “year theme” concept for a long time, but Martine put together a fantastic brainstorming workbook to help you find your theme.  Well, it took me until January 19, but I finally made the time to sit down and figure it out.  And guess what, guys, you should too!

As I was brainstorming, the things that kept coming up were “consistency” . . . “follow-through” . . . along with “flow” and “ease”.  I have always been long on ideas and inspiration and a little behind on stick-to-it-iveness.  When I took my Strengths Finders quiz, none of my strengths had much to do with the nitty gritty get stuff done organizational skills that I admire so much in others.  I work very well with structure–as long as it’s someone else’s.  I am GREAT at keeping commitments–to other people, not to myself.  I also am really great at filling my calendar so full that it’s impossible to do everything to the very best of my ability, and little things like dishes and housecleaning and keeping track of all the daily mundanities of adulthood sometimes get shunted aside.

What I really wanted out of 2014 was an old resolution chestnut; I wanted to work smarter, not harder, to achieve my goals.  I wanted to eliminate “busy” from my vocabulary and choose my commitments with more care–no more “I’m just the girl who cain’t say no”.  I wanted to create systems that helped me take care of all the boring stuff with as little effort as necessary, so that I could focus on all the juicy stuff I truly loved.  I wanted to let my artist brain dream all the big dreams, while still maintaining a bedroom where I could see the floor.  And I wanted to do all of that in a way that felt like ME.  Because if it didn’t feel right, it wasn’t going to stick.

As I brainstormed and surfed the thesaurus, I felt clearer and clearer on how these concepts worked together.  And I came up with it–my theme of 2014:

Cultivated Ease

Immediately, I got that delicious spark of recognition that you get when you hit on something powerful.  Cultivated Ease….those two little words suddenly felt applicable to every corner of my life.  I wanted to cultivate my strengths, while being kind to myself on my weaknesses.  I also wanted to work on and around those weaknesses consistently and intelligently.  I wanted that work to be joyful, and not mind-numbing and frustrating.  I wanted to create beautiful systems to help me manage my life and my time.  I wanted to engage with the world and my artist community to cultivate friendships and strong bonds, to cultivate our shared visions for the future of our businesses and our corners of the world and ourselves.  I wanted to stay “in the flow”.

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So now I had to give my artist brain a consistent, lovely reminder of my theme, and I wanted to use my pretty new thumbtacks.  So in addition to a binder where I organized my various projects and calendars for the year, I went font happy on my theme, printed some of my favorite photos, and made sure my new “inspiration board” was doing its job.  And now, whenever I sit at my new desk, I am reminded of that moment of juicy excitement when I coined my 2014 phrase, and all the delicious ways it is going to manifest for me this year.

Let me know in the comments if you decide to try Martine’s workbook or your own “year theme” brainstorming!  Here’s to “Cultivated Ease”, and all the lovely mantras and plans you have for yourselves this year…

Casey Clark