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Weekly Inspiration 04 // Brightly Colored Doors

I have an embarrassing confession to make: when my sister + I were kids, small enough to ride in the backseat but big enough to risk leaning over the center console, distracting my mother, we made fun of my neighbors’ front door for months.

They’d painted it turquoise, the rest of the house a stark white stucco, set back from the road and sheltered by perfectly manicured shrubs and flowers.

Every time we drove past, one of us would lean forward and gawk, open-mouthed, at the obnoxious color choice. Who did they think they were, splashing the very entrance to their world with something so bold?

Now, a decade or so later, I have fallen hard for front doors. The charm of a southern porch screen door, thwacking against the wood frame. The bravery of a golden entryway tucked in the back alley of a city. The fierceness of an auburn storm door blockading an old farmhouse from winter blizzards.

Doors are, after all, the entrances to our true lives. Step inside someone’s house at a moment’s notice and watch as she either scrambles to stack Good Housekeeping back issues on a coffee table and kick matchbox cards under sofa skirts. Or as he leaps over half-finished art projects and dinosaur invasion stagings.

Notice the way it looks to be lived in, unabashedly tainted with the presence of someone else’s whole heart + soul.

That’s what hides behind those brightly colored doors: it’s freedom, it’s honesty, it’s optimism.

When every other house on the street boasts burnt browns and faded taupes, I want to relish in rich mahogany and creamy corals and buzzing kelly greens. I want people to know that the other side of that door holds a mess of happiness + chaos, comfort + warmth.

So today, I’ve rounded up my favorite doors, the ones I’d stop to knock on if ever my kids sell sugar cookie dough + pizza kits for club soccer + art camp.

bright colored front doors

Entrepreneurial Dreams // Part 1

I’ve always been the head-in-the-clouds type. I see potential where others see too much work. My dreams have destroyed me in the past, letting me down when I fell short of something that never would’ve made it — not even if I worked 80 or 90 hours a week.

In college, I prodded two of my roommates fairly mercilessly to just do it. For one, it was an Etsy shop. For the other, a cupcake truck. Neither has done so yet.

I’m still dreaming up ideas that won’t come to fruition. My friends are creatives; they make things, dream things, build things and see things that this world hasn’t even thought of. They work hard and craft connections and every. single. day. I’m inspired by them.

So I paired my learn-as-I-go design attitude with their personalities to develop brands for them. Starting with two of my college roommates + my best friend’s sister’s book club (which does actually exist and rocks).

1 // Crochet Creations by Casey

Crochet-Creations

Casey’s a total 70s child. She wears rich but muted tones like peach and salmon and olive green. She’s got red hair, so she’s always saying colors don’t match her skin tone (which I don’t believe but, as a pretty standard medium brown gal, I can’t argue). She’s a high school science teacher, so I picture her crocheting business to have a clean but friendly vibe. And her last name begins with ‘R’ so I played off the ‘CR’ theme a bit.

Casey can create anything from bikini tops to iPhone and camera cases. She’s sold her work at craft shows and those hole-in-the-wall boutique clothing + accessory stores in small towns in Northwestern Virginia, and she adores Etsy, but I can’t get her to jump feet first into it.

2 // The Sugar High

The-Sugar-High

When you first meet Sam, she’s crazy chill. She’s got this laid back surfer vibe, but instead of catching waves, she’s scouring food blogs on her Mac, spending five hours in the kitchen with a pyramid of perfectly balanced cream puffs. Her personality is calm, cool, unaffected. Her baking style is anything but — she’s not afraid of big, elaborate cakes and pies. In fact, she’d prefer making a cupcake batch fused together and iced to look like ‘The Scream’ by Edward Munch than whip up a few dozen chocolate chip cookies.

She’s not a girly girl, so I kept her colors cool + calm. But something about baking gets her excited. As she eases into a full on baking assault, she lets loose.

3 // Bern’s Book Club (BBC)

BBC-draft

This one exists. Bern is my best friend’s sister, one of seven kids. Their house comes with a revolving door of conversation, a constant flow of nieces and nephews (four and counting) running up to you with glitter nail polished fingers or Barbie corvettes vrooming at your ankles. Bern’s been running the club for a few years now, and when I was still in college, I pulled my mother headfirst into their circle, giving her an outlet to discuss good reads.

The club, like its members, is an extension of her family: each bringing with them a strong personality and clear opinion about the book of the month. I wanted the color scheme to hint at the fire these people have for words + learning + togetherness. I also wanted it to come with a hint of an older generation, one that existed before iPhones and app stores, before kids thought they deserved the latest + greatest toys + tools.

That’s the thing I love most about their family: the busyness of working one or two jobs, full-time and then some, raking together money to buy cars and pay tuition and bills, to provide for the people they love so fiercely, all the while finding time for this monthly meeting of food and laughter.

5 Tools Writers (+ All Creatives) Should Leverage (Or, “Why I’m Kind Of Obsessed With Google”)

ObsessedWithGoogle

Probably, you’ve never seen anyone juggle a notebook to scribble thoughts in transit. Or waiting in line to place a deli order. But that doesn’t mean they don’t happen.

Three years ago, I wrote a post about almost slamming my tiny little face into a metal pole.

I was writing. Walking + writing, to be honest.

Over time, technology has scooped us creatives up and set us down on this rock called Hope, told us we could let our minds wander in the spaces between bus stops and red lights and office hours and find answers to our next stories. Technology has freed us to dream without risk of losing them to wind gusts.

Let’s start with Google products, because I could gush about them all day long.

Google Drive

Google Drive is a cloud-based tool for word processing, spreadsheets, forms, presentations, etc. It’s like having all your Word documents in your pocket. (Note: I secretly adore the iPhone app for Google Drive, too.) Save your whole life on the cloud, if you want. I’ve used it to jot down quick notes, paragraphs, topics, titles, sentences, phrases, etc. when I’ve just arrived at work and have a half-baked idea formulating from my commute, on campus (when I was in college), and even still on my laptop. It eliminates the need for hard drive space and makes sharing easy for collaborative inter-office communications or writing groups [link here].

 

Gmail

I admit it. I send myself emails like a total dork. Some of them are links on links on links of writing, design, communications, marketing, etc. articles I want to read/tweet/pin later. Others are things I suddenly remember I wanted to do, like send a chapter to a friend or finish my editorial calendar. Then, the ones I have to write down (and can’t keep because I’m not at home or don’t have paper) go in a folder labeled To Read.

 

Google Calendar

I told you. I’m obsessed with the big ‘G’. I have had a crush on Google for probably 10 years. And somehow, in all the insanity that was my life in high school, I had no idea that Google made time management look like color-induced bliss. Google Calendar allows you to have multiple color-coded calendars (each set to hidden or visible) all on one nifty screen. So naturally, it’s a great option for editorial calendars (shareable with other Google Accounts) and moving through any submission-based editorial process or plotting your blog’s monthly topics with deadlines for yourself and guest contributors. You can also choose how far in advance you’d like to receive a pop-up notification and/or email notification for any given calendar event.

Notes

Sorry, not sorry, but this is a tad bit ‘Apple is Ah-mazing’ biased because I am in love with the Notes app on iProducts. I have written entire blog posts in Notes (also see the dictation feature) while sitting in my car in the library or Wegman’s parking lot. All the notes sync with my Google account, so I can see them in the Notes folder of my email, too.

Dictionary

Not the hefty paper weight. That’s cool, yo, but not the book. I’m talking about the dictionary built into your computer. Click on the word and choose ‘Dictionary’ from the ‘Tools’ drop-down menu. Word. Defined. Bam. (Coolest part: the thesaurus). I’m a sucker for words, so I’ll be writing something and know that there is this word inside me, I know it but can’t explain it, and I’ll search the thesaurus for every other word I’m thinking of until it hits me. It’s sort of boring, sure, but it’s better than using the wrong word. (Word nerds: back me up on that?)

What are your go-to writing/editing tools? Did you hand yourself over to technology or holding your pen to paper until your wrist aches? Or both?

Kiss The Curb You've Fallen On

For most of my life, I have kept the peace by not knowing. I did not know how to choose a presidential candidate or narrow my job search prospects to a particular geographic area. I did not know the proper way to break a boy’s heart. I did not know when a boy became a man, when I was in fact breaking a man’s heart. I did not know how to get an auto insurance quote or change the oil in my car or buy an EZ Pass transponder.

Above all, I did not know that not knowing wasn’t doing me any good. That there wasn’t always peace sitting inside stillness. There wasn’t always a road map just beyond the uncertainty.

I am so young. Let me just pin that piece of truth to the bulletin board of my life and know it for a couple thousand more days. I am so young and don’t know much of anything. But I know this.

You’re not doing yourself a blessed good thing by wishing to unknow the pain or drama or anxiety or pure adrenaline.

There will be mornings when you expect rain without checking the weather because it couldn’t possibly be sunny on a Monday in December when your black dress is spread across your bed and you’ve only held the title teenager long enough to want to return it to Target’s customer service desk.

There will be afternoons when you’ll have to double-check the phone lines still work because you have been in this house too long without another human breathing in the same air. And you will wonder if loneliness is literal and actual or just a train station stop.

There will be nights when you will wonder how soon you can curl up in bed even when the neighborhood is chanting over games of beer pong outside and you are supposed to be out there. Supposed to be living. Supposed to be wild and reckless and gosh, what a failure you’ll feel like.

And it won’t be easy, knowing funerals before you know double digits or wishing for normal when all God ever wanted from you was a little fight, a little heart, a little push toward newness.

He had His plan and it didn’t include not knowing. It didn’t include quiet uncertainty or second-guessing. It didn’t include always taking the perfect path, the one people want from you, the one that doesn’t make your mother skittish.

He had His plan and it was all about knowing how to slip into what feels right, in the midst of crisis or chaos or control issues, and reassess later.

We don’t always hear that. We focus on the mornings and afternoons and evenings that tell us there will never be a right answer, that making a decision to feel good or bad is just a recipe for disaster, that if we can just numb ourselves into believing we don’t know anything, there will be less pain.

There won’t be.

There never has been.

But in knowing our choices and choosing them bravely, we step farther from the holes. We splash around the puddles. We kiss the curbs we’ve fallen on and stand up, brush the dirt from our knees, and remember that dirt as we trudge onward.

Know this. The way it feels to make a massive mistake and right yourself.

Know this. The way it sounds to hear that voice on the phone say you did good.

Know this.

Make choices. Take chances. Know them. Own them. And let Him lead you, chance after chance.

Please, oh please, don’t let yourself be paralyzed by wanting to unknow the world. It was meant to be known a thousand times over, all in different ways.