How Do You Define Success?

This thing in life called success is by far the most complex of all adult complexities. Everyone has their own definition. Success is such a personal word, yet we constantly seek validation on our own definition. Why?

I’d like to think that we, as the social human species that we are, want to make sure we aren’t some kind of deviant nut job. Although, I’m sure the first person to seek validation for the tiny house got a lot of side eye. I don’t expect this to resonate with everyone, but for some of us (possibly deviant), there’s something calling us.

My personal definition of success would mean I would have landed the job/ lotto or otherwise level of awesome that is #waterfrontlife. Let me clarify, the ocean not the lake. Once I have achieved the level of awesome in life to live on the coast of a beautiful ocean, I’ve made it!

Here it is the tangent I usually go into when I’m making a pretty clear point… feel free to skip this if you just want to, but it is actually kind of worth reading… It was August 2013. It was a girls night, at the apartment I used to rent in Middletown,CT. It was small, but it had everything we needed. Enough space to spread out but not enough to stay forever. What we loved about this place was that it had a rooftop deck. So we went out to the bar, all 8 of us, and a good friend of mine came out to meet us, he brought with him another friend of his. So we drink, we party, we return to my place. Some people leave, and it’s down to my friend, his friend and myself… Naturally we continue drinking on the rooftop. As we sit their we discussed life, 3:00 am seemed like the perfect time to do so.

I’ll never forget that night. We talked about success. For me, it meant doing better financially than my parents, winning the money race. He agreed. There was a lot of other banter but this stuck out to me. We decided at that moment, money was the definition of success. It was after that, I chased it, and found that it’s not the actual gathering and hoarding of money that really defines success by itself… (tangent complete)

I haven’t always known what success looked like for me. Some people say it’s a title (Doctor Robyn doesn’t sound right), part of my ego thinks that’s true, but no, for me it’s not a title. It’s a place of sheer and utter perfection.

Success has always been a place for me?(I was surprised)! Actually it’s a feeling to me as well, the feeling of being so proud you want to explode!

It wasn’t until recently I realized that what I’d visualized all these years as my #homegoals was actually my definition of success. I was shuffling through my podcast options and I heard the maker of spanx clarify what success meant to her… and no it didn’t mean skinny jeans with no muffin top (but maybe that is success for someone), no it was like a light bulb went off!

Sara Blakely was a woman on a mission to meet Oprah Winfrey(I mean who isn’t right!?). So she spent years trying different strategies in order to meet O. She always visualized this meeting, at each stage of her life, asking herself if whatever she was doing at that time was getting closer to her goal. Oprah’s meeting was the point at which she knew she had “made it”. So meeting with Oprah was her definition of success!

She recalls the visualization of the interview with Oprah, and how it really helped drive her to being an entrepreneur. What I found the most “ah-ha” about this was that, I (not a super billionaire-Forbes-list human) had always had the same experience, from the ripe age of my youth I had a vision of success. I never pictured success to be a vision I guess. I thought of it more of a dollar amount, sailing into the sunset kind of thing. I thought it was a title or a job or a rich snobby lifestyle. I thought it was something but not a place.

I was never a kid who liked to play with baby dolls and thus that meant I would grow up to be a nicu nurse. No I never had that “thing”. I never had an overwhelming desire to be a mother. I was never the best at anything or even the worst. I never really had a “calling”, so I thought. I always had a vision though. I didn’t know it until I realized that is where my mind wondered, that’s where my passion was.

What is the formula? Location of future home =success/ purpose/passion all the other buzzwords that then equal happiness?? Maybe!

So many women have the same sentiment… the when this happens then I’ve made it… I believe even Oprah had this definition at some point in her life. Usually it’s not based on a number in your bank account but rather an experience which makes you fundamentally change. I hope it’s a myth that only the lucky few have always known who they were meant to be. What I’ve seen in my own experience is that we know but then we change course for whatever reason. Maybe we always wanted something, what happens if we get it?

What about after you meet Oprah then what? Life doesn’t stop! I personally have not met the great O but I get the concept. I’ve made goals, hit them and felt kind of “disappointed” once they are over. It’s as if you checked that box, and now, you are ready for the next. This may also be a character flaw but once I make it (insert life goal), then, I’m quickly onto the next thing. For me relishing in achievement doesn’t do anything for me. Some people hold onto these moments for a lifetime, living in that high of life. I picture a shot out, drunken high school jock that never grew up, but remembers the good old days. I almost never look back, unless I’m scared. Which is what success does not look like.

Success is what happens when you are living in the moment.

Okay so back to my vision of success. You know how in movies they replay the same scene of that gorgeous woman opening the French doors with wispy, sheer curtains and a light breeze? Well that’s similar to my vision. Let’s paint the picture…

There isn’t a coco Chanel commercial coming up, in fact there is just me, my love and the beautiful place we live. It’s nautical but not cluttered. Overall it’s pretty simple. There are bookshelves with books, and sea treasures. There is a great big wall of windows, and a white oversized canvas couch. There are cozy blankets and soft colors. It’s calm, light is pouring in. There are whites, creams, beiges, pale sea glass colors and calm blues. The kitchen is opened into the living room and the space is just about medium sized. It’s opened and salt airy. All windows open the doors slide and the air fills the room. Outside you see the seagrass, sand, assorted pebbles. All you can hear is the waves, and wind cooing. The sand is cool and it’s about 6:00pm. The day has been filled with love and calmness. It’s almost time to light a fire and watch the ocean in its mysterious elegance. There are big wine glasses, linen clothes, soft fabrics and simple pleasures. Coffee would always be a ritual experience, outside, with the news or maybe not. The cat would love it too.

The life I picture here by the sea is what therapists ask you to picture when you are anxious. “Your happy place”.

I figured this was the lifestyle of the rich and famous I hoped for someday, but would ultimately never achieve. I realized while listening to this women talking about her ideal meeting with Oprah that in fact If I didn’t make this dream come true. I would never have reached the success I had imagined for myself. I realized success wasn’t a job, or a bank account or hitting the lotto. It was a place.

You can’t get this working for the state… nope you can’t get this being average. You can’t get that life until you are maybe 65 but only after saving your entire life to hopefully get there someday. So I guess in my mind I tabled this idea as something I’ll look into once I’ve figured out the foundation (like what the heck I could do to make the exorbitant amount of money to afford this). I think the reality is I’m not patient, nor am I rational in this vision. I don’t think I need to be. It’s my dream! Right? (Rhetorical)

Living a life filled with passion.

Now that I have put that vision out into the universe it’s important to explain how this actually led me to decide what my “passion” is. I put it in quotations because I feel that my passion is pretty fluid in that I am passionate about many things, not one at a time. So for me the idea of home has always been what I felt the most driven by. Maybe because I always wanted my home to be perfect. I always wanted to enhance the experience for my guests, simply by the way in which my home speaks to them (also because I am a people pleaser). Sounds crazy right? Maybe a little, maybe not.

After getting far enough along my life to see life for the meaning it offers, I have learned that being rich or famous is not success (for me). I finally decided what success means. It means living with purpose, pursuing passion and exploring your own personal journey. Maybe money and material things are a part of that, but it’s not the bottom line.

For me success is living a life, every day with passion, purpose and meaning. My passion is architecture, art, history, music, food, experiences, creating beauty and helping people. For me success will be when I am working for someone using my talents, and helping them achieve their goals. Success will be when I’m watching the light pour in through my sheer curtains on the beach.

I’m always looking for ways to improve, learn and grow and I don’t think there is ever a time that I’ll feel “full” enough to stop. It’s a journey.

Success is a timeless journey.

It is something that mankind has searched for, since the beginning of time. When you have achieved success then you have made yourself proud, you have made a difference in the world, and you’ve offered yourself the gifts only you possess. Success can not be taught. It can not be defined. It is what each of use strive to achieve in the short time we are here on this earth.

We may have many successes. We may have just one that we wish to achieve. Whatever success means, I can not tell you personally, it’s a journey to discovery.

My hope is that like my “ah-ha” moment listening to that podcast, that someone reading this will realize that the picture in their mind, might be more. The vision you have for your life, it might be your definition of success.

Leave me a comment and let me know what your vision is! I’d love to hear your feedback!!

Until next time.

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The Unexamined Life..Of Your Coffee Table

I love to explore, I like to plan a whole day in a new place, it gives me a new perspective to return home with. Traveling has been an influence on everything in my home. Experiences bring my imagination to life and I love to daydream about all the possibilities.

I try to make the best of what I have to work with, in part out of care for our environment but also because every object has potential!

So in cultivating my blog over the years I’ve been exploring avenues that I enjoy. Some of the most exciting experiences I’ve had in my life I’ve been completely terrified of. Example: every single place we traveled in California had to be on the side of a mountain, and I am not a fan of heights. Am I glad I did them, yes. Was it terrifying, also yes! College, scary, did that too. Living with other people I didn’t know, scary, did that. Running for a town political role, suuuper scary but also exciting! Buying a home, scary, but extremely rewarding!

So what I’ve been doing lately has been designing a business. Im terrified. I really don’t like change. I have a pretty cushy job, and a pretty easy life. What business do I have trying to mix that up? Well the goal has been to step out of my comfort zone, to give the world a chance to understand what it is I want to give back to it and to try to live my best life!

So here it goes…

Background: I grew up an only child. Which requires me to answer the question, how did you like being an only child? I’ll be honest, it was fine. I pretty much had my imagination to entertain me, instead of another human. I think it also made me look closer at myself (critically) and also the relationship I had with other people. My fatal flaw is people -pleasing. While my parents were older from start, I had to grow up relatively quickly, with a few challenges. Mom had mental health issues, Dad had some workaholic issues. Everyone has issues, but it made my story, and shaped a lot of my strengths.

Neither parent really cared about our living space outside of whether it was clean(it was very dysfunctional). So I found myself making my bed, fluffing my stuffed animals and putting my own decorative towels in the bathroom for when guests came over. Right… I know, people pleaser. They didn’t see the value of a well designed home space. They did have some taste (sort of) Dad was kind of hippy, which now in the era of mid century modern times has found its way back in vogue (go Dad). Mom was more artist, mixed with Greek iconography. So my house was a shmorgusboard if hippy, Jesus and artwork. Not the most cute assembly of furniture pairing. Lots of random paint splatters, brushes and equipment… but it was home.

What I found myself doing in my younger years was constantly reorganizing my own space. My room was like my safe place. The family didn’t always get along, and life wasn’t always roses and sunshine. I tried to stay positive, keep my own space in order and looking as good as I could have it with the resources I had. I remember the feeling of seeing the redesigned space. It was like a breath of fresh air. The odd thing was remembering where everything was placed in the new arrangement. It was necessary to use what I had to work with because asking for something deemed “unnecessary” was more aggravating than making the best of it. In a lot of ways this allowed me to utilize the things I had creatively. I credit the rents with giving me a hard time enough that I had no choice but to make my own designs.

So here I am adulting and trying to find my purpose, and recycle, and drink enough water, and meet my personal goals, you know, be responsible (eye rolling emoji). What I’ve found is that I really want to help people live in the space they feel the most at home. Some people see the value in simplicity while others want their Pinterest dreams to come true. I’ve just found a happy balance of function and artsy, with unique hand made peices. What I’ve always wanted is my space to feel comfortable to anyone who enters. After years of trial and error I think I’ve achieved my design goals.

What is so counter intuitive to so many of my friends and family is making their space work for their family while still meeting their asthetic goals. I’ve always loved Martha Stewart, and I’m a huge fan of HGTV. The difference between my inspirations is that I try to incorporate personal experiences into spaces.

So many designers make your kitchen look like a home and garden magazine but fail to reflect the people who live there. One thing I love is holding the mirror up and saying you are, where you live. Your space is part of your health. Your wellness is directly related to your environment, and for me, I find clarity in order, and reorganization.

Part of the journey I am on in life is bringing my life experiences into my living space, as a reflection of who I am, where I’ve been and what I love.

I have so many photographs of my better half, Joe and I. I have pictures of our cat. I have my mothers artwork, our grandparents wedding photographs, friends, family, trips we’ve been on etc. Our kitchen has been completely redone (by us), and is now pig themed, subtly. before

(Two different times of year so bare with the decor in these pictures)

Our chandelier is restored from basically a dumpster to full beauty (Joe deemed it to be trash).

We built our own bar, we built our headboard, our kitchen island, our entry bench, our master bedroom bench. We redesigned our bathroom fixture. We built custom shelving, we built our ottoman, we’ve upcycled more stuff than we’ve bought. I’m proud of that.

Everything in our home has a story, and it’s about who we are and what we love.

We have made a beautiful space using mostly what we had, and adding our own spin. Our molding may not have perfect lines, although he did a very nice job for a beginner! Our life might not be exactly what you see in a magazine but it has cracks that came with weathering. My favorite part about our home is our life in it. After so many life experiences it’s easy to lose track of where you’ve been. I find a memory around every corner in the lake house that we love.

So I am officially beginning the exciting (and scary as hell) adventure of starting a consulting company for interior decorating, with a focus on life experience, and functional needs. I love to be reminded of all the fun I’ve had. I love my family, and my friends and I make it a point to focus on the positivity both in my life and in my home space. I have helped so many people see positivity and opportunities in their space so they can grow into it or shift into a better arrangement.

As for the coffee table, we turned it into an ottoman.