For the past few years, I’ve spent my holiday break the exact same way: time at home in Virginia with my family followed by one solid (blissful) week of absolutely nothing. Just takeout, movies-on-demand and naps. But then at the beginning of last year I adopted Hope. Her schedule, physical challenges and puppy energy meant my days of sleeping in and spending breaks burrowed into my couch were long gone. But with it came a new-found sense of happiness, adventure and openness that I had never known. I truly believe it’s that openness that lead me to the person I would marry that same year and then build a home with in Brooklyn. As nice as it sounds to end things on a happy note there, there was a moment over this holiday break where I found myself having to stop, take a deep breath and truly learn to embrace the change that was surrounding me everywhere.
Like many frustrating stories, this one begins at Ikea. After sailing through what was easily a dozen smooth visits together, Julia and I each hit our personal limits and cracked. A few packets of Ikea gummy fruit later, we were on our way to the city for plan B: The Container Store. It was there, among Elfa shelving, that I learned to see not only my life and my home differently, but the challenging and exciting year of work that stands before me.
Read through for the full post…
I’m not proud of it, but I can be a real stick in the mud about change. While I’ve embraced great personal change over the past few years, when it comes to my house, I’ve been known to wait years until I find the perfect piece to replace or finish something in my apartment. I apply the same philosophy to work. If I don’t feel 100% about something, I won’t move forward. Like, at all. But thankfully I share my home with someone who understands and appreciates the value of functionality and just getting things done.
Julia was eager to get our living room pulled together (I’d been watching TV on top of a work bench for years) and find a home for the pile of books that had taken up residence in our apartment building’s hallway. So when Ikea didn’t work out, she suggested we try The Container Store. While the open ventilated shelving was pushing every button on my inner perfectionist (It wasn’t solid wood! We couldn’t fit symmetrical sections! The bottoms have visible screws– OH THE HORROR!), we placed our order and headed home.
The next morning I woke up and took Hope to the off-leash hour at our local park, just like every morning since last spring when she came to live with me. Except this morning was different. There was close to a foot of snow on the ground. Worried to death about Hope’s less than sturdy back legs (see the Youtube clip in first paragraph), I hesitated to let her into the deep snow. But before I could stop her, she leaped into the snow with reckless abandon. Here was a dog with such troubled medical history, so much surgery and without any experience in the snow, hurdling through the drifts with unbridled joy. Half-awake, I cleared my eyes and watched her bound over tiny snow hills, throwing herself into each one and gobbling up mouthfuls of snow as she went. An hour later she pranced home with me, grinning ear-to-ear, to meet our shelf installation guy.
As the Elfa boxes were being unpacked, our faux-denzas (I just cannot quit that trend) were built and hung and I started to watch our living room go from an unfinished random space into a fully functional and cozy living room. Blank walls turned into functional spaces to house and showcase our favorite artwork and books, and chairs (next to the window sills we painted black that weekend) suddenly turned into cozy nooks next to rows of reading material. We sat on the couch across from it all, next to Hope and Turk, and marveled at how much we’d gotten done and how much of a difference that work had made. Sure, the pieces weren’t our first choice for everything (I’d still love for perfect solid wood shelves, but hey, these aren’t too shabby) but the work was done and the last BIG project in our apartment was finally finished.
While we were sitting there I glanced down and saw Hope passed out on the rug, twitching in the middle of some dream. Then it hit me. Between Hope’s ability to adapt to and love new challenges to finally seeing the value of making (and accepting) deviations from an original plan for the sake of overall success (ie: finally having a functional living room shelf and storage system), I had more life lessons staring me in the face than I could possibly miss. Hope didn’t let her past affect her future. She didn’t let new changes slow her down. She leaped into them like nothing else had ever come before. And not having the perfect solid wood shelves or symmetrical shelving didn’t mean our living room would be a disaster- it looks and feels like a real home and gives us places to display things that mean something to us- a vast improvement from the mess of boxes we’d be living in before. While I understand my nostalgia for what’s come before in my life, I feel like I’m living in a world of examples that prove change can be good, positive and so much better than you even imagined.
The blog world had changed (and continues to change) exponentially, and the way we do things has to constantly evolve to fit the online world in which we live and work. That’s been a tough change for me. But today is the day I put down my anger and frustration and leap forward into what is unknown. I don’t know know exactly how this year will go, but I can promise myself, and my team (and you reading), that this year we’re going to follow through on all of the ideas we have, projects we want to try and dreams we’ve had to make this site the best possible version of itself. 10 years after I first hit ‘publish’ on a post, I feel like I truly understand what a gift this job has been, and continues to be, and I’m so excited to embrace (and share the results of) all of the challenges that lie ahead. Love, Grace
*Just a note: Neither The Container Store nor Ikea sponsored this post or played any part in its creation.