Thursday, June 2, 2011

birthday week

This week is invariably the busiest week of my year. Thank god it lies almost directly opposite holiday season (both for my sanity and for my piggybank). This, my friends, is birthday week. For as long as I can remember, I have been surrounded by Gemini’s. Apparently I am drawn to people with multi-faceted personalities (or maybe just multiple personalities… hehe). So check it out, it goes a little something like this:

Mother's Day --- the official kick-off
5/27 bestfriend
5/29 mom
5/31 dad
6/1 half-sister
6/2 fiance
6/9 stepmom
6/17 [future] mother-in-law
6/18 [future] brother-in-law
Father's Day --- phew... made it

As you can probably imagine, I have been incredibly busy (although I must admit it has been a nice break from navigating the ever-present madness at Whole Foods as there’s absolutely no need for groceries when we’re eating out virtually every meal!!!). And I have been on an unrelenting quest to find the “perfect gift” for each of these people who are all so incredibly special to me, and who I feel deserve nothing short of the world.

So in accordance with the overarching theme of my week, I thought I would share a few of these gifts with you guys – plus I’ve added a few things that we have been designing into some of our most recent projects that I am currently obsessed with (and would definitely go on my personal ‘wish-list’).

For the die-hard Yankee fan in the family (in my case that would be my mother), I got these. And for the gadget guy who is trying oh-so-hard to stay current with today’s technology (ahem --- dad), how could you possibly resist this (unless, of course, you waited in line at 5am to get it the week it was released like someone I know who shall remain nameless, but is very near and dear my heart). But I would have to say my fiancĂ©’s present took the gold this year. As I have learned over the years, the reel way to a man’s heart is through his rod --- especially if he’s an avid fly-fisherman!!!

----------- things that I am currently obsessed with ------------

And no kitchen could ever be complete without one of these...

Happy gifting!!!


Thursday, May 26, 2011

when worlds collide

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what happens when two seemingly distinct worlds collide. Sometimes the answers come easily, kind of like doing a Monday crossword puzzle. While sometimes a little more thought is required, like say your typical Thursday or Friday puzzle. Then inevitably at some point in our lives we all experience our own version of a Sunday crossword from the New York Times. Upon first glance it appears seemingly unsolvable, but as you remain diligent putting forth both effort and time (for what sometimes seems like an eternity), the answers slowly begin to unfold. Patterns develop. Themes become apparent. The secret is our receptivity, or better yet, our attunement to all of the subtleties as they are revealed. Just like in life. When you feel as if you are being asked to make a choice between two things you hold very important, how receptive or open can you be to all of the possibilities that could lie ahead? Are you skillful enough to pick up on the subtle clues that inevitably surround you helping guide your way? Are you patient enough and willing to sacrifice the necessary amount of time it might take to figure out what you really want? Or do you simply retreat, thus forcing a solution prematurely (even knowing full well that in doing so you are risking the chance of experiencing the sweetness of what could be out of fear or maybe even just plain laziness)? Of course we all know the old adage: patience is a virtue. And a virtue it absolutely is, which is all well and good, but patience alone ain’t quite enough to push you forward when you’re feeling stuck. In order to truly experience the fullness and beauty that could be, then in addition to cultivating both patience and receptivity, we must put forth effort in the form of dedication, steadfastness, and raw, gritty, fierce, sometimes even painfully challenging work.

So let’s first be really clear about our questions: when we come to these challenges or forks in the road, how do we navigate? In other words, how do we use our inner GPS to tell us the “right” path to choose? And do we even really have to choose one over the other or can we find a way to make our seemingly separate worlds collide (and I mean that in a good way)?

In order to even begin to find the answer(s), I default to what I know best (and what I know works – at least for me), and that is my yoga. If I were in a difficult yoga pose the very first thing I would remind myself to do is breath (note: this is actually true for any pose, but it undoubtedly requires more skill to remember your breath through the tough positions). This is what we call in the Anusara tradition, being “open to grace” (OTG), and it is the first of our five Universal Principles of Alignment™. For me, this applies both on and off the mat, so when times get tough and situations are trying, I simply pause and come back to my breath. I soften. Allowing the space for a greater sense of openness, attunement and receptivity to all those subtle clues that surround and offer insight as to how to proceed. Some visible right away, and others still cloaked that are to be revealed in time. OTG is both the patience and the receptivity. And once we are able to tap in to that, we are then able to add on. Next comes the work part and by no coincidence is this the second of our Universal Principles, which we call muscular energy. Muscular energy simply translates to grounding oneself and cultivating the strength, courage and steadfastness in whatever situation (or pose as it may be) that we may find ourselves in. WE need to put forth the effort. WE must be active co-participants in the shaping and design of our lives. Next in the sequence comes the expressive part (which is our third Universal Principal a.k.a. organic energy) reminding us that once we are grounded, we have the freedom to shine our brightest and fullest. Expressing our true potential outwardly in the highest way possible. These Universal Principles keep building on one another, always looping back the beginning (OTG) simply to start the process over again. Infinitely. To me, the process is both beautiful and methodical, offering the remembrance that there is never not something that we could be doing.

I could go on forever about the connectedness between yoga inside and outside the classroom/studio, but I promised this week to get to kitchens, so bear with me just a little bit longer. If you hadn’t picked up by now, my two worlds that have collided are design and yoga. I love each one dearly, but until just recently, I had felt like I needed to choose one or the other (in terms of a career path). I had resisted following my heart and enrolling in Teacher Training for years, because I thought it meant giving up my dream of being a kitchen designer. I now know that I wasn’t truly taking my teachings to heart. I heard them. I believed them. I could spit them back out as though I truly got it. But I wasn’t actually living it. I couldn’t even get past our first principle (OTG), so how could I ever expect to experience the beauty that potentially lies ahead? I completely was selling myself short. So I’ve made the conscious decision not to choose. Why should I feel I have to? I want it all. And will settle for nothing less. So here I am. Officially enrolled in Teacher Training. And what’s more? I am more inspired than ever before in my design. Who knew?!?!

Now comes the fun part (note: this is the part where I attempt to bring it all full circle). Curious to know how I interpret our theme of world’s colliding and translate it into beautiful kitchen design? Wanna see what’s inspiring me these days? Check out these pics of two kitchens done by the amazingly talented Donna Venegas.

LOVE LOVE LOVE how she blends traditional styles with more modern styles so seamlessly. And I’m especially loving the contrasting yet complimentary finishes she chose (like the white high-gloss poly with the more rustic and earthy walnut).

 So just like that. Two styles collide creating a fullness of beauty that wouldn’t otherwise be achieved were it simply one or the other.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

superficial AND profound

Dearest blog,
Hello, old friend. It’s been a while. Let me turn on the lights, and dust off those cobwebs. I apologize for being so distant over the last few months. Admittedly, I’ve thought about you on and off, but as we both know, I have yet to put in the effort required to maintain a healthy relationship (although in all fairness, you haven’t either, but I guess technology hasn’t quite reached the point where blogs literally opine back to us – at least not yet – so for now the onus is solely on me). Anyway, as we well know, relationships take work. Hard work. Like [sometimes] really, REALLY hard work. But when we put in the effort, regardless of outcome, there is one thing that we are always guaranteed: the satisfaction of knowing that we gave ourselves in our entirety. That’s kind of a big deal. Truly. And definitely worth more discussion, but in an effort not to get too far off track, I’m choosing to simply leave it at that with the offering for you to contemplate at will. 

So, with the inspiration and support of my friends/family/peers/teachers, I have made the conscious decision to step into the current and genuinely give my all in every aspect of my life. To that I am dedicated and committed. Writing those words down and publishing them in this blog may seem insignificant, but to me it helps carve it in stone. I guess it’s kind of like signing a contract in the digital age. There’s no turning back, as I am now accountable [to all of you who stumbled upon this] should I fail to honor my commitment. Keep me honest.

“What does any of this have to do with kitchen design?” you might ask if you are among the select few who dared read this posting. Well, in short: everything. Design is design. Period. And that stands true for both the superficial (and I don’t mean superficial in any negative connotation) and for the profound. We design our own image everyday through the clothes we choose to wear, the shoes we put on, how we style our hair, etc… We design our homes as reflections of ourselves. Whether you surround yourself with neutral color palettes or bold ones, says a lot about your personality. Do you like the idea of stepping off the beaten path and opting for concrete counters? Or does the mere idea of concrete counters simply make you cringe? Just as we are the designers of our superficial image/surroundings, so we are the designers (or to take it even a step further, the architects) of our lives, in a very profound and real way. It’s both as simple and as complex as that.

So as has been offered to me, I offer this forward to you: Are you in alignment with the design of your life? In other words, does the image you present to the outside world match the vision you have for yourself on the inside? If the two worlds are out of sync, which is the one that needs to change? And most importantly, what are you willing to do about it?

And finally, dearest blog, I leave you with this one last promise:

“I will write a weekly entry about something/someone that I find inspirational and how that is translated into my design (since this is a Kitchen Design blog, after all).”


ps- more on kitchens next time… I swear ;)

pps- and most of all, to my dear friend and teacher (you most certainly know who you are should you happen to be reading this, but I will respect your anonymity unless you give me the green light in which case I will give you shameless plugs to no end), I want to say “thank you” for your unfettered strength, clarity, poise and grace in communicating your thoughts and translating them into action. You, my friend, are true inspiration!!!