Sunday, May 25, 2014

Finding My North Star

How I've Reconnected with My Purpose

Hello, dear friends! How are you? A busy spring at work, a two-week European vacation, and various lovely design projects have kept me buzzing! I'm glad to be back state-side and have had a chance to plan out some fun upcoming posts for you! During my (massive) plane rides and multiple eurorail trips, a question has been nipping away at me: 

"What core activity do I do for the world? How do I contribute? What's that 'thing' I could do for hours and never grow weary of? When do I experience 'flow' and what am I doing when I get there? When does my soul harmonize best with those around me? What's my gift?"

As a landscape designer, I've always known "creating" has been my main joy, but as I've sat with these questions, my heart found my guiding North Star in a clear and determined way. I am here to create beauty. That is my highest calling, my raison d'etre, my purpose. Plants happen to be my current medium. Dreaming up beautiful landscapes and bringing them into reality for those around me gives me an expanded sense of high-calling and harmony. It's not just about aesthetics - it's about presenting a lovelier reality others may not have dreamed of an inviting them to participate. I long to inspire beautiful feelings inside the hearts of others through my work as a designer. A certain lovely mood or essence that may be indescribable but is potently felt when entering the space. 
 This is my gift to others. 

PS - If you haven't asked yourself these questions regarding your purpose, do it! I cannot describe to you the peace that knowing yourself brings to your life. A clear picture of who you are helps guide where you want to go. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

How to Find People Interesting

Three Tips I'm Using to Overcome Conversational Boredom

Hey friends!

I have a small confession: I'm not into you. WHOA! Okay, let me back up and put this in context. I live a social, happy lifestyle with my friends, lover, colleagues and acquaintances that involves healthy, meaningful interactions. By no means would I be classified as socially awkward or unsocial. Slightly introverted in large groups - yes - but I have strong feelings and a clear voice and I use it regularly. Yet, I still get bored in the middle of conversations even though I know how important it is to show people you care by listening.

I enjoy you. I really do. But in those conversations of "Hey, how's it goin? What did you do this weekend? Where are you taking your summer vacation? Blah...blah..blah..." I check out HARD. 

I guess what I'm getting at is:

Kind of a bummer, right? Deep inside I want to care what people have to say and in my head I KNOW the folks around me have unique and wonderful things to share, but this overwhelming sensation of boredom grips me. FYI, this is super embarrassing for me to share this, and I hope some of you out there can relate.

Like a typical human being, I am the most fascinating subject on earth and breaking out of this self-focused mold is very, very necessary. Self-absorption is lame and it's time to kick this habit!

So you've probably tried "being a good listener" too, but faking interest only works some of the time if I'm really truly present and really f-o-c-u-s-i-n-g. Then I have a new problem - worrying that my "trying-to-pay-attention-to-you" demeanor will be just as insulting as frank inattentiveness.


1. Speak your mind. If "What did you think of the game last night" doesn't dazzle you, TAKE the conversation somewhere that does. Stagnating in verbal wasteland does no one good. By being in-tune in the moment and sharing some of your inner dialog with those around you, genuine conversation has better odds. This doesn't have to be totally random and off-the-wall, just some keen thoughts that you've been pondering. I know I always love it when someone sidesteps the tete-a-tete and digs into a real topic. Get gutsy, and open open!

2. Try to learn something. Key-in on the other person's experiences, expertise, background, etc and selfishly ask questions that might help you in other areas of your life. If you are actually interested, the other person should get a nice rush from being the expert and enlightening an eager novice.

3. Be honest with herself. If you seriously are't into someone, perhaps you need to be challenged by a crowd of people you look up to and want to emulate or learn from. Feeling "out of your league" is a great way to stay on point. A change of social scenery may be all that's needed for you to fully re-engage. Take inattentiveness as a clue that you need more stimulus so the crowd your with a favor since it's probably pretty apparent you are unfulfilled. So identify the group of people you are attracted to and get out there!

For more reading, here's a post discussing how to overcome lack of interest in those around you. Based on the comments, there's a fair amount of people who suffer from the boredom blues too.  If that's you, what do you do to make genuine connections and find beauty and intrigue in those around you? Thanks for posting your suggestions below!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Sunny Streets of Portland in April

PDX Art Walk: Self-Guided Street Adventure

No lie, it's over 65F this weekend!!!! I can't EVER remember a sunny, warmer, sunroof-down kinda summer in all the years I've lived in Portland. Yes, please, and can we have another SoCal spring? 

In preparation for my trip to Germany next month, I treated this weekend excursion as a dry run for the following: shoe fit, handbag functionality, and personal stamina. SO glad I'm ordering some better flats - ouchie! By handbag is small, but did get heavy at the end of the tour. My stamina was directly proportional to the number of small snacks I kept on hand! Better make sure that handbag scenario is addressed to allow maximum space for almonds and dried fruit.

The walking tour was FANTASTIC. I have a crazy great map ("A Guide to Portland Public Art") with multiple walking routes through the city. There's also a free corresponding iPhone app with dropped pins on outdoor displays. If you haven't trekked around, you will be astounded with the number and variety of public art! Here's what caught my eye. What's your favorite piece of Portland art?

Cat in Repose - Kathleen McCullough
Looks like those soap bar carvings we all made in middle school! Good kittie.

View from the suspension bridge at Union Station. The bridge jiggles.

Cairns - Christine Bourdette
This collection of 5, are so fun to stand next to! Each cairn is totally unique with perfect tapers and width variance. The silver ledgestone plays off the brick station wonderfully. These 3-D pieces are very viewer-friendly; you'll have to stand next to them to get the full experience. 

Each cairn is topped with a capstone to cover the central opening. 

Did you notice the detail work? (The overlap onto the brickwork.) This guy also has an indented layer about 1.5' off the ground. Almost like the artist left subtle characteristics in each piece for us to discover!

Driver's Seat - Don Merkt
A giant eye, reverse-order Roman numeral clock face, plus a giant seat and steering wheel all aimed at the Station. I feel like this is actually a junglegym tenuously masked as an artpiece! Climb aboard and grapple with this piece. Love the three large eyelashes and the way the clock face acts as the pupil with the remaining negative space as the white's of the giant oculus. Clever.....

The Legend of the Green Man of Portland - Daniel Duford
This display is also a set. There are 10 pieces along 5th and 6th from a graphic novel telling the story of a mythic "green man" viewed periodically throughout the city inspiring visions of a legendary tree and mysterious previously-unseen building. Some of the pieces are numbered reader boards with cool colors and some are large monuments. Fellow blogger, Patrick tells of his encounter with The Green Man here. Who know's what magic may befall you in the midst of the city....

Burls Will Be Burls - Bruce Conkle

Untitled - Bruce West
This one is so simple I actually walked half a block before realizing I had passed it! I see the shape of two figures laying down in the band duo. Shadows of the newly-leafed trees participate in the visual experience darkening different sections of the stainless steel. It's grown on me - sleek, interpretable, cool.

Daddy Long Legs - Mel Katz
Great color choices! Especially for our (normally!) bleak weather.

Pile - Malia Jensen
Put TWO birds on it! An on two books, a folded pillow, and an artfully askew crate to be exact! Cute and fun. This is a great one to twirl around for a different experience on each whimsical side.

Portland Shopping. Yes, it's Fabulous

Solabee! Found a gem of a store that has inspired yet another summer resolution - get a green living space with more houseplants that I tend well and do not devastate! Overwhelmed with the descriptive words required to give you an accurate assessment of this botanical gem, go visit their brick and morter or at the very least their luscious web presence.

Boy's Fort - The funky Portland bloke's version of Hallmark. Only better. For a tomboy like me into graphic, oversized,  industrial furnishing and cool textiles this whole store is like a packed Christmas stocking. Cheers!

Johnny Sole - Don't go anywhere else for leather shoes and handbags. Bring some coin, you'll want to get you some boots!