Posts Tagged “designing life”

My Take On Talking TED

Maybe you’ve already seen this, but for the official Lucky So And So record, here’s my Talk about buying nothing new and the life lessons it’s provided me (in exactly 5 minutes and 25 seconds). I gave this on March 3, 2011 at TEDActive as a part of TEDYou, which is where conference attendees get to submit an idea for their own short Talk, and if selected, present on stage. I learned over 100 attendees submitted their ideas, and I seem to remember about 30 presentations. Being selected was accomplishment enough for me, and I NEVER expected my Talk to actually make it onto! How does one learn their Talk is going live on the homepage of, a site visited by something like three-quarters of a million people daily? Well, I can only tell you my story…

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Here Goes

Alternate titles for this post: Less Hang Ups and More Finishing or I Probably Owe You a Thank You Note or A Long Post on Perfectionism

I’m a perfectionist.

I know, I know that sounds sexy, doesn’t it? The word “perfect” is right there at the front of it. But much like being a super taster isn’t super (there’s no cape involved), being a perfectionist is not about actually being perfect. It’s more about the fear that nothing you do is ever going to be good enough. What “good enough” really means is unclear but that doesn’t keep you from obsessing over being it. Symptoms include stress, procrastination, stress over the procrastination, sense of worthlessness, sense of guilt, extreme sense of guilt over the sense of worthlessness, denial, zoning out, moodiness, hyper-distractability (wait, I think I see something shiny over there that has the potential to be be perfect), a special kind of passive agressivity that is only acceptable when directed at people who love you most, and stress.

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I’ve Got A Sweet Rainbow Hangover

And there ain’t no cure. Please be patient with me as I figure out how to process all the joy that was my birthday, find the words to thank everyone who participated in both the Hole Sale and the Rainbow Birthday Parade, and figure out a way to share everything all those who could only be there in spirit.

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Hole Sale and Rainbow Birthday Spectacular

Dear glorious second-hand shoes, I shall miss you! I hope you’ve heard by now: this Saturday on my thirty-second birthday, I’m getting rid of over 400 items from my wardrobe! As challenging as it might be, it’s got to happen if I want to get down to the 100-items-or-less closet. I felt I needed to find a way to let go while also celebrating my birthday, and true to my nature, the whole thing has turned into a crazy, hopefully wonderful production.

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100 Items or Less

On March 15, my friend and Studiomate Chris Shiflett put out a call for his readers to write the Ideas of March as a commitment to substantive blog posts. I asked him what I should write about. I don’t usually tackle what others in our webby community would consider stimulating, educational or controversial (although if you knew what actually went on in my head, you’d agree that everything I write is actually all three for me on a personal level). He said, “You have lots of ideas. Just write one of them down.” I decided to choose a subject I’ve been avoiding for a long time and see if I could come up with any fresh ideas worth sharing. True, I had a few drinks, but I must have been inspired because I ended up envisioning what amounts to a major overhaul of important yet neglected area of my life. So without further ado, here’s my contribution to the Ideas of March, and true to my nature, I’ve posted it without a day to spare. 1 hour to imagine; 5 hours to distill and write; an estimated 50 hours of action required.

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South By Southwest Bound

If you haven’t already, watch this terrific video featuring my friend Alex Blagg of a

So this is where we’re headed for the next 5 days… You tell me, should I be worried?

Truly, I’m just happy I’ll get to reunite with some of my Studiomates (past, present and future). Man, I’ve really missed them! Plus I’ll get to hang for the first time with some of the people I’ve fallen in love with over the Internet, like Alissa Walker. And let’s not forget there’s reconnecting with some of my new friends from TEDActive, like Kestrin, Jonathan and Scott of {RV}IP. Yes, {RV}IP is a karaoke lounge inside an RV. No joke. Here’s Creighton in the RV, singing karaoke, as we go barreling down the California freeway at a top speed of 45 mph just one week ago today (good times)...

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Week’s Worth of Undies

It seemed simple enough… I’ll go on a trip, and the only thing I’ll pack in a tiny suitcase is the underwear I’ll need. All other clothing will be procured at thrift stores once I arrive at my destination. I’ll wear it, photograph it and have a grand ole time with it, but then I’ve got to give it away, returning home with only my original undies.

But what ensued was awesomeness on a level I’m not even sure I’m capable of processing. Let’s just say, short of every person I love having landed next to me in a giant rainbow-colored hot air balloon, I don’t see how life could have gotten any better.

In Summary:
10 Thrift Stores + $275 + A Week in the California Desert + 600 Incredible Folks + 1 Three-Minute Talk = AWESOMENESS OVERLOAD!

I have to attribute much of the magic of the week to where I chose to carry out this project for the first time: TEDActive in Palm Springs. That’s a yearly gathering of more than 600 uniquely intense and beautiful people out in the California desert. We watch TED2011 as it’s simulcast from Long Beach, meet one another, go on field trips, swim, bike, eat, dance and have a generally amazing time. What made this TED truly special was that we (WORKSHOP) actually worked with TED to create the visual identity for this year’s conference, The Rediscovery of Wonder. So as we were walking about, we got to see our design on posters, guide books, signage, iPad apps and more.

The most exciting yet nerve-wracking part of the week was that I was selected to give a TEDYou Talk about the Undies Project. Yippie and yikes at the same time! It was a lot of work for me and Josh to get up at 6:30 every morning to take photos of the outfits before each day got started. Plus I agonized over the words, the slides, pretty much every aspect of the presentation; you name it, I second-guessed myself. But in the end, the Talk felt like a huge triumph! So many people showered me with love, and I started to realize for the first time that my outfit obsession and quest to be true to myself could actually inspire others, particularly those brave souls known as teenage girls. 

Giving TEDYou Talk
On stage at TEDActive! photo credit: Michael Brands / TED

Get ready, because I’m about to post the 7 outfits (plus the set of pajamas) I found to wear during this unforgettable week.

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Forever Young

Living in Brooklyn, most of the people I interact with are somewhere between their twenties and fifties. But being back home for the holidays, conversations and activities tend to revolve around what babies have been born, who’s passing on and who’s past. Mantles overflowing with family photo Christmas cards in all the homes I visit are a testament to the births. Obituaries filling nearly a page in the 8-page daily newspaper I read while eating my breakfast of grits are a testament to the deaths. These consistent reminders throw a wrench in the gears of my normal world view, but maybe that’s a good thing this time of year: a time for reflection and resolution.

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What Makes A Beer Friday?

The original equation went something like,
beer + studiomates + friday = x

Over time, the equation has morphed into something more like,
beer (bottles + growlers + kegs) + studiomates + great friends (neighbors + colleagues + clients + kids + out-of-towners) + video games (rocking + singing + dancing) + theme (costume + craft + movie) + friday = x

In both instances, x = Beer Friday, and while the equation may have, um, expanded over the past year, the heart of the matter is still very much the same. All that’s really necessary to the success of the formula is to get amazing people in a shared space with a shared motive of relaxing and having a good time. That’s really what our co-working space Studiomates is all about.

Now on to this particular, most recent, December 3rd Beer Friday…

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What’s Worth More Than a Gold Sequined Dress?

Last night on SNL, Régine Chassagne of Arcade Fire wore the gold sequined dress by which I shall henceforth judge all other gold sequined dresses. It was one part Broadway, one part disco, one part hometown tap recital. Wearing a gold sequined dress of this caliber has now officially been added to my list of Things to Do in My Thirties. Oh, plus there were sequined glovelettes. But you know it’s never really the dress; it’s the way you wear it. My mom taught me that, and this performance confirms it.

Watch it now!

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We’re Going to Rio and Eating Gelato When We Get There

When I met Creighton, I knew he was special. One of the ways I could tell was by how much his friends care about him. I mean, they seriously go-out-in-the-rain-to-see-you, do-just-about-anything-you-ask-even-help-you-move, can’t-get-enough-of-this-guy care. The reason for this is probably how much he cares back. Maybe it’s a function of being an only child, but he truly treats his friends like family. I’m such a sucker for that.

Case in point is Creighton’s long time friend Scott. Scott is based out of Florida but travels around the globe for his job as a tennis coach. Scott never misses an opportunity to spend time with Creighton, even if it’s just in his mind. When we opened a package the other day to find this bright red 2010 FIFA World Cup hat (that Creighton looks quite fetching in, right?) and a note reading…

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Like Myself

I’ve spent more of my life than I care to quantify attempting to fit in: trying to lower my voice, covering-up my naiveté and hiding my dorky enthusiasm. Nine times out of ten, I failed. Even worse was when I actually managed to blend. An insidious “this isn’t me” feeling inevitably eroded my well being.

Only recently did I decide to let go and give in to my nature. I’ve taken the new approach of exploiting what makes me differnet and celebrating the weird ways I interpret the world around me. (Part of that is this blog, and so I thank you for participating.) As I become less ashamed of my unbridled optimism and my intense bursts of energy, I become more fulfilled. I’m also beginning to sense the potential for greatness, for eventually being able to offer something valuable to the world, even if I don’t know quite what that is yet. Giving in isn’t giving up. In fact, it’s liberating. It’s also hard work, but for the first time, I really believe I’m fighting the good fight. The people in my life, my friends, family and clients, will ultimately get a better version of me.

This shift has taken surrounding myself with people who are on similar journeys and opening myself to inspiration in all forms. One of my greatest sources of inspiration thus far came when I attended TEDActive last February. I met so many people working to live their dreams and watched several Talks that filled me to the brim with hope and ideas. One Talk I keep coming back to is by an incredible woman named Temple Grandin. Temple is a leading thinker on and researcher of the autistic mind, in addition to being autistic herself. She uses her Talk to explain the spectrum of autism and the different types of autistic minds, advocating that we celebrate differences because they’re what actually advance humanity. After all, if everyone saw things the same way, we wouldn’t have scientific or artistic breakthroughs.

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June Flea Finds from Three States

Creighton and I lived the month of June away from our Brooklyn home. We wanted to break out of our routine, practice working remotely and spend quality time with family and friends we don’t get to see often as we’d like. For the first two weeks we drove up and down the California coast staying with friends and Creighton’s family in LA, Santa Barbara and Oakland. Then we came back to the city for a week surfing good friends’ couches before taking two weeks down to Mississippi where I grew up.

We learned a lot about ourselves on the road. There were work challenges we didn’t expect, like finding a simple wireless connection where ever we went. But we had truly memorable experiences, like kayaking past otters and dolphins just before taking a conference call from the shore.

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