Before I leave the country, I wanted to share with you my work for Rivet and Sway’s autumn collection – a line created exclusively for women. I styled and produced photo shoots for six of my favorite frames – all spotlighting different roles that I, along with many women, play daily. (If you look closely, you can see the most darling inscriptions on the frames themselves, celebrating each role with verbiage from our daily repertoire, like “Say Cheese!” and “Good luck!” and “XO XO,” the latter of which I offer to my 1-year-old daughter no less than 512 times weekly.) And I’m so thrilled to share them with you today as a follow-up to this post, along with a personal story about my journey this year:
The truth is, getting back into the swing of creativity was really difficult for me after the birth of Bee. I longed to do more, to somehow justify the time spent away from these precious early months that slip into years faster than we all realize. Design was no longer a sea of wonder I desired to explore daily; instead, my passions were overflowing into new rivers entirely – wellness and soul and community. And I began to swim upstream, struggling to find where the sea ended and the rivers began – all the while feeling oceans away from my purpose as a person and a mother and a voice.
And there were many days when I wondered if I was enough, if I was sending my daughter the right message – that pursuing passion and happiness and creativity is a just cause. Because there were moments when I swore a good mother meant fresh-baked cookies and stained aprons, perfect pin curls scented with sugar and lemon slices. And I worried that I didn’t measure up with my frozen pizzas and dirty dishes, ordering take-out between conference calls and kitchen dance parties.
But then I started to brainstorm this collection with a group of diverse and multifaceted ladies living similar – and yet so different – lives, all searching to unearth a deeper purpose while making sense of our harried, frenzied schedules. We tip-toe the balance beam, adding substance and inspiration to our lives, all while deleting hours. And on most days, it’s an amazing kind of busy.
And yes, there are days where it’s not an amazing kind of busy. We explore and retreat and say yes and say no, nodding our heads to the rhythm of a ticking clock – deeply aware of our time spent and hopeful we’re honoring the weight of our watches. We are diplomats at the mercy of time, delivering the best versions of ourselves and embracing as many adventures as we can muster in the moment. We negotiate with many, yes, but mostly with ourselves, giving and taking and molding until we’ve compromised just enough without compromising anything at all.
We are complex creatures, women. Full of doubt and power and love and loyalty. Seeking the greatest of achievements – a life worth celebrating.
It’s precisely the reason this collection is so important to me. I’ve always struggled with identity, with balance. I weave between extremes – a sprinter running a marathon – setting expectations and creating limitations, hoping I’ll find the straightest, most narrow path to myself this way. But what I’m realizing – as a mother and as a creative and as a human being – is that there is no narrow path. There is no finish line. Because with everyone in separate lanes – with everyone on the straight and narrow – our lives would never bump into each other, creating shared experiences and great loves and beautiful messes.
And perhaps even more importantly? We might never bump into ourselves, discovering nuances and passions and interests that are locked outside the confines of our chosen lane. Embracing my love for blogs is what unlocked my passion for design. And now, years later, a passion for design is what reunited me with my desire to write. To tell stories and swap experiences and form communities and document life. To collaborate with amazing companies – photographing and designing and creating and styling – all while hoping that I’m being a good steward of my time, following the right passions and leaving a legacy for the little girl who sleeps in her nursery down the hall while I type in my office.
Am I making enough memories for her? Am I documenting them accordingly – or worse yet, too much? Am I sharing the honest parts of our lives or simply rehashing the airbrushed and filtered versions of my day? Should I be sharing them at all? And am I remembering to get in front of the camera every now and then, smiling on the inside and embracing myself in the season I am – unwashed hair and dark circles be damned?
And I realize how common it is to doubt ourselves. Fear is a secret we hold close to our chests, yes, but the truth is – none of us have it figured out. We want so much and so little and we want so badly to feel treasured, to treasure ourselves.
I sometimes long for the glamour days – before spit-up and diapers and midnight wake-up calls – where my husband and I were dressed to the nines and candy for each other’s arms. But then, I don’t miss the facade. The mask was heavy, and I feel grateful for the deeper connection that exists behind the lipstick and frill. There is beauty in the bare, the vulnerable. There is beauty in the real.
Because at the end of the day, when the glasses come off and our vision blurs, the big picture becomes clear. And we realize – I realize – that we are enough. We are gems, shining brightly with each facet of our lives – achievers and diplomats and confectioners and seductresses and memory keepers – each pointing to a different light and shaping our fractured lives.
I’m learning to embrace each role, to realize that there cannot be just one. We are a perfect mathematical formula, comprised of experience and perspective, strengths and weaknesses. And even our doubts and fears and transitions all add up to something magnificent – something greater than ourselves. Something truly and wonderfully unique.
Image Credits: Erin & Ken Loechner for Rivet and Sway
p.s. You can shop our collection here (all frames are $199), or enjoy a few more visual treats right here. And as a special gift for you all – my creative support system – enjoy $25 off one pair of single-vision frames through August 31st with discount code DFMSWAYS.
Courtesy of Design For Mankind.