Firstly, a few brief words about my earlier post this week on how mental illness has touched our marriage. Thank you for reading, sharing, and for the words of support and words of solidarity. Let's keep talking : )
Today I'm talking about something equally personal. I am very thrilled to share that we are pregnant! Yes- again! Baby #5 incase you lost count (easy to lose count with us). So to enter the weekend I offer my very first fashion post on Dressing the Bump: Volume 5.
I love being pregnant. Obviously it has its challenges but I really do treasure this time. However, I used to really not treasure finding clothing that fit and made me feel good. Being pregnant 5 times I have traversed the market for trendy, well made, well priced maternity wear. What I have found is you either have to spend hundreds for well designed stuff, or if you want to be budget conscious you are getting really basic, super casual, kind of boring stuff- or stock is limited so for the good stuff your size is gone super fast. A retailer that has not disappointed me all 5 times has been Thyme Maternity. As I have worked pretty much all the way through my pregnancies, finding on-trend items where I can look polished and feel great (which can be super hard when you feel like a blimp) is such a treat.
This patterned shirt is great as it coordinates with other items in my wardrobe- love being able to wear regular staples from my wardrobe through my pregnancy like this blazer.
Blazer: Smythe. Shirt, Citzens Maternity Jeans: Thyme Maternity. Bracelet: Niki and Lola. Necklace: Tessa and Olivia. Shoes: Steve Madden.
Check back most Fridays for how I will be dressing the bump for the next few months of my pregnancy. We are so excited for another little Canning!!!!
Thanks to Thyme Maternity for partnering with me during this very special time and to Mdd Photography for capturing my growing bump!
Today is #BellLetsTalk day, so I'm interrupting a regularly scheduled design post to talk about a topic quite personal to me, and a little vulnerable- mental health.
My husband has for much of his adulthood suffered from anxiety and depression. When we met I almost did not believe him- most people who know him think of him as a very relaxed, happy-go-lucky, gets along with anybody, kind and caring guy.
In 2012, about 5 years into our marriage and 3 small kids under the age of 3 later, depression reared its very ugly head.
There were days when I witnessed my spouse overcome with a grief and sadness that was so uncharacteristic of his personality that it paralyzed him. I witness him unable to get out of bed, unable to enjoy things that normally would have given him joy, unmotivated and just not himself.
And at first, I could not understand it. I wanted to fix it. I desperately, utterly, from the bottom of my core, wanted to take whatever suffering he was encountering off of his shoulders.
The Bell Let's Talk campaign was in its infancy if I am not mistaken when depression entered so loudly into our marriage. I know it helped my husband feel not as isolated, and it helped me to understand a little better what it feels like when you feel so unlike yourself.
Now I have made friends with depression- I say I have made friends with it as it doesn't define me, it doesn't define my spouse and it doesn't define our marriage. It is a challenge, like any other, that we BATTLE together hand-in-hand. I say battle because some days it really feels like a battle- but like all battles, they end. There is always a winner. If I am being really honest there are days that it doesn't feel like we are winning- but I have long LONG term vision lenses on and I am in it for the long haul.
If your spouse or someone very close to you also suffers a mental illness, here are some strategies that have really helped me.
1. LEARN TO SEE THE SIGNS
I consider myself (rightly or wrongly, I am no medical professional), the gatekeeper in a way to monitoring Josh's depression and anxiety. I can see the signs when a low period might be coming in a way he does not. For us, one major trigger is busyness. If we have gone through a season of extreme business, with lots of travel for work, and basically not a lot of margin scheduled in- it's not setting us up for success. Other signs I have read about and experienced include increase or decrease in appetite, too much or too little sleep, and general discontentment with things that otherwise bring joy. Basically, a consistent attitude or mood shift that sticks around for a while.
I think some people on the outside see what appears like a "bad mood" and just suggest, with the best of intentions, the person suffering with a mental health illness just snap out of it. Just go do something fun, just change. I can tell you, from experience, this person really wants to "change" but it's not as simple as flipping a switch.
So as the support system, see the signs, know the signs, and be able to implement a plan for when the signs come.
2. HAVE A PLAN TO DEAL
When I see some triggers starting I try as fast as humanly possible to book some time off for just me and my husband. For us, some time to decompress is a NEED, not a luxury. Other plans that can be helpful are ensuring medical help is available. We are extremely, extremely fortunate, to live in Canada where, while not perfect, great health care is available to us. As the partner, know your spouse's doctor. When depression hits hard, doing something as simple as looking up a phone number can feel overwhelming. So ensure you're in the loop (in a respectful manner of course).
A therapist I met at Platform, Dr. Terry Ledford, says it like this: "depression is like an ugly, mean troll that gets inside the victim’s body and makes him want to do the very things that feed it and make it grow. When a depressed person decreases physical, social and pleasurable activity, his depression worsens." So his advice- starve that troll. Encourage your partner to get out, even just to walk and get the mail, or pick up kids from school. Do something daily to make that wretched wretched troll shrivel up and die from starvation.
It's not easy, and my plan is not elaborate- but it's small things like getting up and out daily that can really help.
3. TRY TO HELP THEM SEE PAST THEIR OWN INACCURATE VIEW OF THEMSELVES
I find this one the hardest. Dr. Terry says it so well: "The most powerful negative perceptual distortion is the victim’s view of himself. The depressed person sees himself as inadequate, unimportant, unlovable and a burden to others. He believes that others would be better off without him. He focuses on his failures and mistakes and dismisses his positive attributes and successes."
This one is hard. This particular one I really, really, struggle with the most. My husband is an INCREDIBLE person. Like, incredible father, incredible friend, even if I wasn't married to him I would think he was amazing. But when depression hits, I really see what Dr. Terry describes. It's like he puts on glasses that are completely distorted. And I want to smash those glasses into a million pieces.
Again I'll let Dr. Terry explain: "To fight depression, the victim must understand that his perceptions are not real. He must not trust his thinking or his feelings. He must remind himself daily that those perceptions are inaccurate. He must listen to and trust supportive friends and family who assert that his negative perceptions are wrong."
So as the partner, learn to realize when your loved ones perceptions are whack. And just surround them with love. Have the kids make him cards. Do sweet things like bake his favourite cake. Remind him he is loved and awesome.
4. TRY AND BE PROACTIVE TO BE PREVENTATIVE
This one is also a bit tricky- as sometimes you can do everything "right" and an unexpected trigger can take your best laid plans and throw them out the window. But I know for us- busyness is a big time trigger, especially in the winter. So here are some tips for being proactive that I think work for us:
- Schedule a holiday in the winter. Winter can be really difficult in Canada, for everyone. So we try and book a sunny holiday, just for my husband to enjoy on his own! It has really helped, we usually schedule it in January.
- Eat healthy and take vitamins. I have just been introduced to Neurapas, which is a combination of St. John's wart, valerian root and passionfruit herb that is meant to help in creating a healthy, balanced mood. I'm curious to see its impact this year.
- Exercise. Again I am no medical professional but the benefits of exercise for everyone are pretty clear.
- Schedule MARGIN. I have written ample blog posts in the past on efficiency and productivity to aid in creating margin. It's important for EVERYONE. So schedule it.
5. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF TOO
This can be tricky too but all the more necessary when you need to be there both physically and emotionally for your spouse. For me, my faith really helps me to see victory in the suffering. I also just fiercely love my spouse, from the very bottom of my core. It truly is an honour to be his wife and I walk this road with him and that is enough motivation for me to battle WITH HIM fiercely.
If you suffer from a mental illness you are not alone. If your partner has a mental illness you are not alone. Keep on talking, keep on walking and starve that troll : )
My lovely colleague Vanessa Francis posted this to her Instagram today:
This resonated with me big time this morning. Saying "no" is a skill that has taken me a really long time to learn. But what I have learned is that saying no really means saying yes to much more: to happiness, to sanity, to living with intention. So if saying no for you is a difficult thing (let me tell you it still is for me) here are some strategies to help you say no with more freedom:
1. KNOW YOUR STRENGTHS
In order to say no with intention you kind of have to know why you would say no to it. One big catalyst for me to say no more freely was knowing my strengths. I did a Strengths Finder assessment a few years ago, and did some further coaching in it more recently, and it was super duper revelatory. One thing it showed me is that I am really good at 2-hour interior design consultations. In a 2-hour consult I am able to use my empathy, strategy, input and relator strengths (that is 4 our of my top 5 people!) to help people make the best out of their home. Strengths Finder also shows you pretty glaringly what you are not good at- I have used my assessment as a filter for what to delegate or simply decline.
I really recommend this tool. It's a whopping $10 to do the basic assessment online and it is worth every penny. Trust me, it is life changing.
2. WRITE A BRAND SCRIPT
This is important whether you run a small business, write a blog, or simply want to change the way you run your household. It essentially is the act of defining who you are and what you want to be known for. If something doesn't fit within your brand script it becomes a lot easier to say no to it with total freedom.
My amazing friend Sarah Walker wrote a post on creating a compelling brand story aimed at interior designers. You can do this for your personal brand, or blog as well. It's essentially answering a few questions (Donald Miller is the expert on this, credit for these questions to him!):
- Why do I do what I do?
- What exactly do I do?
- Who do I do it for?
- What is their internal / external problem?
- How do I help them solve this problem?
- etc. etc.
Again, it's a funnel. Having these questions answered really clearly will help steer you away from opportunities that just don't fit your bottom line. You can also phrase these questions into more of a mission statement. For example, here's a tool I learned at the Platform conference:
I'm a: ____________ (lifestyle blogger, interior designer, marketer, etc. BE SPECIFIC)
I help: ___________ (overwhelmed mothers, overwhelmed business owners, couples with financial trouble, etc. AGAIN BE REALLY SPECIFIC, NOT SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE- THIS IS KEY)
By offering: _______ (interior design services, copywriting services, a 10-week self-help program, etc.)
So that they can:________ (live a better life, sleep better, dress better, etc.)
Anything that does not fit in this brand script- politely decline.
3. WRITE DOWN YOUR PERSONAL VALUES
I am convinced everyone should do this exercise as it REALLY scared me when I did it. As part of Crystal Paine's Say Goodbye to Survival Mode book and Michael Hyatt's 5 days to your best year ever course, I had to write down how I spend my time, what is most important to me, and why.
Writing down my values was easy: faith, family, physical health, career, friends, etc. I had 7 really specific things on my list in order of priority. Then I examined a typical week. And it was kinda scary- I was spending 90% of my time on career, and trying to cram everything else in the remaining 10%.
Woah nelly recipe for disaster- and primarily my health and family were feeling the impact. Having your values really clearly identified on paper, and where you examine them all the time is really crucial. Saying yes to better heath for me has meant saying no to invitations that will keep me out late at night. Saying yes to more family time has meant saying no to contracts that will take me out of the house on a consistent basis.
This has been kinda critical for me. If you are struggling with this I really recommend Michael Hyatt's 5 days to your best year ever course. Let's be clear- no affiliate link or any back-end deal here. I realize a plug this man a lot. But I do because I have seen the changes in my own life as a result of this course and other tools and I know how it could impact you too.
Again, in the pursuit if saying no with more freedom- knowing WHY you are saying no because of its impact on your personal life is pretty essential.
So something is in the air as I keep stumbling upon resources that totally fall in line with this topic. Here are a few more to help you out:
This is a beautiful post by my friend Sarah Walker on renovating your life like you would a house. Beautifully written, beautiful images, beautifully inspiring.
Essentialism by Greg McKeowon is, for lack of better word- essential in learning to say no.
I have not read yet but am excited to get my hands on The Joy of Missing Out by Christine Crook.
Have you said no to something that was hard recently, but you knew it was for the best? Love to know in the comments below.
It's that fun time of year again- when design lovers (often dressed in black!) descend upon the GTA for Toronto's Design Week. For me it is always a great time to reconnect with old friends and colleagues, and of course get inspired by new products and installations.
Here are my must see items at the Interior Design Show.
The Galley: Reinvent Your Kitchen booth 1942
Let me tell you if I had known about this product 6 months ago it would have gone in my kitchen. The Galley is a pretty cool sink / prep / entertaining / efficient use of space sink and work station in one that turns your space into one pretty cool restaurant like experience. I mean come on- look at the possibilities- so cool:
Lightmaker Studio booth 2228
Price point is as expected for items that look this GORGEOUS- I really want to put one of these pieces in a project very soon. Black and brass light fixtures, so on trend- amd these little table lamps are just too adorable /edgy if you can possoibly be those things at the same time.
Urban Barn booth 1828
I've been a long time fan of Urban Barn for its well priced, well designed items. Coming for spring / summer 2015 lots of natural textures, brass, and my favourite items- the trunk inspired chests of drawers and conversation starter napkins. Love those.
Atelier Nomade booth SN18
Studio North is always a must stop for me. And this year I discovered Atelier Nomade and these FABULOUS rope lights. I'm dreaming up word installations in kids' spaces, industrial lofts hung and tied in a sculptural fashion, and a plethora of other organic options.
The show is open until 7pm tonight and 6pm tomorrow- enjoy all the design delights! Love to know your favourite part of the show in the comments below.
With the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show on in Vegas right now I've got kitchens on the brain. Having just recently designed my own kitchen I can attest the end result is so worth all the effort of the many steps it takes to get a kitchen from concept to installation.
I worked with Aya Kitchens on my super small space kitchen. There are a multitude of kitchen cabinet companies on the market- and of course I wanted to make the best decision for my family and my budget. Here are a couple of the things I considered and why Aya ended up being the best choice for me:
I needed design help: Even though I am capable of designing a kitchen on my own, I knew I needed reinforcements. It is a very small space square footage wise, and I have a staircase header that basically eats up a ton of cabinetry room. So every inch had to count. I am also super busy- so I knew I would not be able to get this accomplished successfully without the assistance of someone 1) well-trained in kitchen design, 2) objective and not as emotionally involved in all the decisions like me 3) with an amazingly stylish eye and an awareness of trends, and 4) the ability to understand my esthetic and what I was trying to accomplish in my space for my family. Cue Amy Dillon- who is all this and more and bonus, she's like sunshine- which is super helpful because designing a kitchen and writing big cheques can be super stressful.
I wanted a showroom: I really wanted to touch and feel all the components of my space. I wanted to feel my wenge doors, see the exact colours of my cabinets, see the interior fittings and hardware- and I wanted to do this all conveniently in one visit. For clients I have done the homework and traveled around the city at various vendors sourcing all details- but for me (and my husband, who was essentially the client) I really wanted a streamlined experience. The newly renovated Toronto West location is my favourite- as it boasts a really good diversity of example kitchens (at least 10 if memory serves) and you can physically touch and try everything- you aren't just looking at a photo.
I needed customized design: Aya's kitchens are customized- you get the personalization of a custom kitchen with the value and quality that comes from a 150,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art production facility. And similar to my last point- I actually liked the fact that I had to choose from a curated number of options- it really helped to focus my design direction and make me make decisions faster. And with the number of options and the ability to customize you're pretty much guaranteed your kitchen is going to be unique to you- even if someone else picks the exact same colour and door profile, with how customized each kitchen is your space will look super unique.
I wanted detailed drawings: So this is standard at most reputable custom cabinet companies. But let's keep it real- not all retailers / vendors / trades are created equal. If you ever do a kitchen- even from a big box store- YOU NEED DRAWINGS. Don't just make a list of how many upper cabinets you need. You need to take the time to plot out how many, where they will go, how high they will be hung, etc. SO YOU CAN PLAN for everything else (counters, other furniture in the room distance wise from the kitchen, hardware, etc). A reputable company should also make you sign off on each drawing to ensure you are approving every detail. Never commission anything custom without something in writing. Also- this might sound intuitive but I'm writing it anyways- the person who measures your space (ideally the people making your kitchen) SHOULD DO THESE DRAWINGS. This way they are responsible for the measurements and there is no discrepancy if something goes wrong at time of installation.
For my clients, when we design custom kitchens I create concept drawings- which means I show what I want the kitchen to look like, colours, finishes, etc. but then I always let the kitchen company create the technical drawings for production of the the cabinets.
I wanted quality and customer service: I was looking to invest not only in the product, but in the entire experience from concept to install. Because a kitchen is such an investment, and something I will NOT be changing again in this house, I really wanted it to be as turn-key and as stress-free as possible. And truthfully, it was. There was no going back to the store to deal with a broken product, no hours on the phone dealing with customer service, no returns because of a miscalculation on the measurement, no large unnecessary filler strips between cabinets. There were a few minor deficiencies (little dings on a door, some variance in the finish consistency on another) but they were dealt with swiftly and I did not have to leave my house to deal with them- new doors and installation came to me.
Referring back to a previous post I did on purchasing your appliances, you need to decide where cabinets fall in your priority list. For some people a out of the box kitchen is totally appropriate. For my kitchen, with its space challenges and specific modern look I wanted, I knew the investment in a customized kitchen was the best option.
Thanks to Aya Kitchens for partnering with me on my #canningreno. All images taken on location at their Toronto West showroom.