Life & Business

Grace at Creative Mornings: “People Matter, Real Life Matters”

by Grace Bonney

Earlier this year I had the honor of speaking at Creative Mornings New York. Tina knew it was our final year at Design*Sponge and asked me to come speak about that and reflect on the idea of symmetry. For me, that meant sharing the times that life and work had dipped high and then low again. That eternal back and forth is the only version of “balance” or “symmetry” I know, and I relished the chance to slow down, reflect on the past 15 years and share what I learned. But what I found myself doing as I worked on my slides was telling a more personal story: the story of meeting (and sadly losing) my friend, Georgine. Georgine volunteered with Julia and me at Angel Food East, and getting to know her and learn from her taught me more about life than I ever expected. So this talk boiled down to the greatest lessons I learned from Design*Sponge and from Georgine — mainly that, in my experience, things that happen in person (and not on social media) tend to have a more lasting and significant impact on life. I hope you’ll check out my talk (below) and give it a listen. There are tears and laughs and a lot of vulnerability. I hope it might inspire some of you to unplug and connect with friends (new and old) in person, too. xo, Grace

Photos by Paul Jun

  • “This is me marching into the unknown having no idea what I’m doing, but knowing that it’s the right time to make this move.”
  • “Let’s try to invest in the people that pick us up when we’re down, that remind us of who we are. People who know that we are not our brands. People that remind us that we matter exactly as we are.”
  • “Be present with somebody. Take the time and care to create the compassion that is required to make a lasting connection.”

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  • Dear Grace,
    As I read your opening story this morning , it occurred to me truer words were never put forth. Personal– face to face connection is something too many are missing these days. I have just finished making a birthday card and handwriting a letter to my friend of almost fifty years. She will be ninety in seventeen days. We do not speak the same language nor do we read or write each others language, but when a letter arrives it brings joy and warmth just knowing some one really cares.

    I saw the joy in your face as you spent time with Georgine and Angel Food East. Personal connections are everlasting.

    Hugs and smiles, Reva

  • Thank you so much for posting this Grace. I laughed and I cried. I loved it. I have followed Design Sponge for years and I know I have checked in daily because of, well, because of You. Wishing you so much adventure and continued growth in this next part of your journey. Sincerely, Cathy XO

  • What a gift, thank you Grace. Taking your words to heart this morning. Of all the posts I’ve read here over the years, this may be the truest message. Thank you for sharing of yourself.

  • Dear Grace,
    Watching your talk reminded me how much of an influence you have been on my life throughout the many years I’ve been following Design Sponge. I wish that I could tell you this in person, because writing this in a comment, to your point, feels like it doesn’t matter as much. But it some small way I hope it’s worth it. Some days this blog was the bright spot in the darkness, and it’s still the first place I go when I have any quiet moment at work. Your talk reminded me of the losses I’ve faced this year, and it brought me to tears thinking of how important Georgina was to you and my family members were to me. Though this relationship is mainly one-sided, know that you are important to me, too, and you will be missed! Thank you for your work, and the inspiration that you have given me and all of your followers over these years. And for sharing your growth and life with honesty. You are a role model and I am so grateful to have been witness to your journey.

  • Dear Grace,
    I’ve been an avid reader and a huge fan for many, many years. I enjoyed your talk at SVA. So inspiring and absolutely what I’ve been feeling for years: Connecting with actual people in real life. I’ve always admired your willingness to address the tough issues. To put yourself and Design*Sponge out there on the edges. You never shied away from the tough conversations. It has been a dream of mine to be someone who might someday be featured in conversation with you. Who knows…. now we may meet in person!
    All the best to you and Julia as you explore this next phase of your life.

  • I am a first generation Australian, my parents immigrated to Australia in the 60s from what was then known as Yugoslavia. Family and friends were valued by my parents (and extended family) above career and material possessions. And, the value of relationships and connecting with people was instilled in me. Western society has, I believe, deceived individuals by promoting independence, career and material possessions as things that lead to a fulfilling life. Where once family and community were valued, the self/individual is now valued. I believe that so many young individuals feel that they need to be independent of everyone to be viewed as successful by Western society standards. That somehow to rely on others is to fail (which it is not). We have our degrees, careers and material possessions but we are lonely, disconnected, uncertain as to how and afraid to connect with others. And, that breaks my heart – the knowledge that many are lonely and longing for personal relationships. To those feeling this way, you are not alone – many feel this way. My suggestion, try volunteering – a wonderful way to meet people and uplifting for the heart and soul. I hope that my comment does not come across as cold, it is not meant to be.

  • Grace, I’ve been reading Designsponge from a 5000 km distance (I’m in Germany) since 2009. Even though we’ve never met in person I know who Julia is and who Georgina was when you talk about them. I wouldn’t if I hadn’t taken an interest in your personal development over the years and just looked at the pretty pictures. I guess only the internet made that possible? I want to say that I think it is beyond amazing how much you put into your posts to make this place personal, inclusive and relevant to your readers and how you tried to take the discourse to deeper levels instead of just trying to make it “look” more perfect. Thank you very much for that!!!
    With this I just want to express my appreciation for your work here on the blog but I certainly agree that nothing can substitue personal connection and that I wholeheartedly agree that we have to take an interest in our neighbours a lot more and be very careful not to reduce social interaction anymore than we doubtlessly already have. Wishing you all the very best wherever you go, Sabine